Holidays are time to give back

November 26, 2018

Catholic Charities of Odessa has resumed operations after summer storms in 2017 damaged their facilities and forced them to close.

“We’re here, we’re back and we’re here to help,” said Sara Aguilar, executive director of Catholic Charities of Odessa.

Aguilar said the organization has worked hard to reopen their thrift store, the Louis Baca Food Pantry and find their footing once again within the community.

The food pantry was opened Oct. 15 along with a new online order option similar to H-E-B Curbside Pick Up, which she said will bring more convenience to individuals in need.

“By them utilizing the online order program, they’re still able to select what they want from the pantry, but one of the staff members will go and prepare the box to make it a quicker process to get them in and out,” Aguilar said.

She said this service came at the perfect time because the holidays often bring in more families that are struggling to make ends meet.

“We’re seeing a lot of clients in these past few weeks since we’ve opened and the number is increasing every week for the number of people coming in for the food pantry,” Aguilar said. “They just need something to supplement what they’re able to provide for their household.”

Catholic Charities has formed a partnership with American Compression Technology & Service this winter to bring holiday meals and Christmas gifts to three families in need.

One Odessa woman, a recipient of the sponsorship, said it will help her provide for her daughter and two grandchildren that had to move into her mobile home because they could not afford the cost of living in an apartment.

“They’re going through a hard time,” the woman said. “They need help.”

She said her daughter had tried to support herself after going through a divorce, but found 75 percent of her monthly income was going to rent. The woman said her daughter faced a constant struggle that took a toll on her mental health. The issues her daughter faced began to affect her ability to function and maintain a job.

“The kids would see their mother upset because she couldn’t handle it,” the woman said. “They’d cry to me. This year getting near Christmas, I can really just barely afford to feed them. I wanted to feed them more nutritious stuff than just buying macaroni and potatoes.”

The woman is currently on social security and receives less than $900 a month.

She said she reached out to Catholic Charities, who had helped her pay for her electric bill once in the past after she was laid off from her job.

“They’re lovely people and I love them,” she said.

Aguilar said she encourages families to volunteer with the organization to help spread awareness for others’ situations this season. She said many children that have family working in the oilfield only see an abundance of income in their household.

“They’re not seeing that there still are some families suffering out there because they’re not involved in the oil industry,” Aguilar said. “They’re not aware that the kid next to them might not have a hot meal waiting for them. If they’re able to see and get around to the local charities and see what is actually out here it might actually bring some awareness of why it’s important to give back.”

The organization is looking for volunteers to assist with their food pantry, thrift store and Cory Learning Center. Catholic Charities will also begin their Gift of Hope campaign mid-November. The campaign serves as a major fundraiser that helps support all programs in the agency. Donations can be given directly through their website.

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