FORT WORTH — Maria pays the bills and feeds her three children with the money she earns working two jobs, but it’s not enough to put Christmas presents under the tree.“It’s very hard,” said the 40-year-old single mother. She’s been raising her children alone for about 10 years.Maria works in housekeeping at a Fort Worth hotel in the mornings. In the evenings, she cleans offices. She takes home about $300 every two weeks from her hotel job. Cleaning offices earns her about $450 a month.Maria turned to the Star-Telegram’s Goodfellow Fund for help this Christmas. It’s an aid she’s turned to before because it has helped make Christmas better for her children ages 16, 13 and 9.“Thank God,” Maria said in Spanish in a phone interview. “It has helped me a lot.”The fund hopes to provide almost 20,000 kids from about 8,000 families with $50 J.C. Penney gift cards that can be redeemed for clothes and shoes. The fund started at the Star-Telegram in 1912. The idea was to spread Christmas cheer to little ones who might be overlooked by Santa.The first year, Star-Telegram readers donated $1,242.80. This year, the goal is almost $1 million.Maria said she will buy her children clothes and shoes that she will gift wrap.“They will open them on Christmas,” she said. Maria has to work at the hotel on Christmas Day, but when she get off work, her youngsters will unwrap their gifts.“I just want people to know how much happiness they bring my family and that my children can show off new clothes for Christmas,” she said.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1