FORT WORTH -- Maria's children had already been told that they might get nothing for Christmas.
Maria, 40, was laid off from her housekeeping job in May. She had been working at a golf course, but it is being renovated, so it doesn't need her until the work is completed. Maria, a legal immigrant with a green card, has searched in vain for another job, as has her husband.
"Because we don't have jobs, we can't ask for big gifts," Maria told her 11-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.
The family has relied on unemployment benefits, but those will expire soon, she said. To improve her marketability, Maria started taking high school equivalency and English as a second language classes.
"I'm looking for work, but since I can't find it, I am taking advantage of the classes," she said.
Her growing children need shoes and clothes. Her daughter told her not to worry about the expense, saying: "Don't worry, Mommy, when I put on my pants, I will roll them up to the knee so they look like long shorts."
Maria applied to the Goodfellow Fund for help. In her letter, she wrote in Spanish: "If you help me, maybe I will be able to buy some pants in time for the cold weather. I would appreciate it with all my heart."
Within weeks, Maria had received two $50 gift cards to J.C. Penney.
Every Christmas since 1912, the fund has asked the community to donate to help children in need. Goodfellows concentrates on the basics -- clothing and shoes -- and this year aims to raise $1 million to help 20,000 children.