Thirty-six-year-old Gicela is trying to prepare for her first Fort Worth Christmas.
The single mother of three boys — with one more on the way — said she recently moved her family from Joplin, Mo., to Texas to escape a violent domestic situation. She’s staying with a friend because she’s having trouble providing for her kids.
Gicela is eight months pregnant with her fourth boy, making it difficult to find work, she said.
She moved to Texas when she was about three months pregnant. She said she applied to work as a receptionist at a dentist’s office. When people there found out she was pregnant, they told her to reapply after she has the baby. Then she went on unemployment, which has now ended.
Gicela said she gets food stamps. Her friend pays most of the bills.
“I’m not working. I have no means of funds for the kids. That’s why I’m so concerned for my kids to have a nice Christmas,” she said. “My older boys [ages 12 and 13] just want clothes.”
But Gicela said it’s hard to tell her 7-year-old that Christmas is going to be tight this year.
“He has been seeing the toy ads in the newspaper, and he keeps circling all the ones he wants,” she said. “I keep telling him that we don’t have money for that, but I just want to get him something so he has a present under the tree for Christmas. I want him to feel like a kid.”
That’s why Gicela said she applied to the Star-Telegram’s Goodfellow Fund.
“Anything that can help my kids be happy this Christmas, I really appreciate that,” she said.
This is exactly why the Goodfellow Fund was started in a Star-Telegram editorial back in 1912 — “for the purpose of spreading Christmas cheer among little girls and boys” who might be overlooked by Santa.
The first year, Star-Telegram readers donated $1,242.80, which provided 350 families with a turkey, bread, fruit and canned vegetables, a few toys and a load of wood or coal.
The program’s name has changed slightly, and the gifts have changed with the times. But the idea remains the same. This year, almost 20,000 kids from about 8,000 families will receive $50 gift cards that can be redeemed for clothes and shoes.