Kids in Immokalee getting an early Christmas present thanks to some generous organizations

This year, the Immokalee Friendship House is teaming up with Saint Matthew’s House to distribute toys to kids and families in Immokalee who may otherwise not get gifts this Christmas.

It may have only been Dec. 23, but it was Christmas for kids in Immokalee

A room was filled with toys, and every child got to pick a few to take home; a dream come true.

Siomara Varela, an administrative assistant for the Immokalee Friendship House, said, “seeing their faces, it just melts your heart and lights up your day.”

Many families in this farmworker community can’t afford to put presents under a Christmas tree. For them, the gifts are a Christmas miracle.

“I honestly never knew what the need was in this community until I started working here about four years ago, and it’s just mind-blowing,” said Varela.

About 180 families in Immokalee lined up for the opportunity to get a gift for their kids.

Maria Guerra stopped by with her daughter. She said this event brought so much happiness to these kids. “It’s very important because it brings a lot of happiness to kids.”

Maria’s daughter Emily said, “I got a Christmas barbie, and I got a Disney princess barbie!”

Varela admires how all these parents work to provide all they can for their kids, whether it’s moving to a new country for a better life or some Christmas joy.

Varela said, “they look for the resources, they find places where they can take their kids to be able to get at least a toy. It just warms your heart to be able to know that you were that little seed that is helping.”

$6,000 worth of toys were handed out to all the kids who made it on Santa’s nice list.

Varela grew up in Immokalee and said as an adult, she never imagined there was so much poverty. “It was a very eye-opening for myself. It changes your way to view things and so appreciate everything you have and not just take it for granted.”

Varela’s parents came here from Mexico where they didn’t even finish elementary school.

That’s the case for many of the families who stood in line for gifts. They wait because they can’t afford to put a Christmas toy under a tree.

Varela makes it her mission to give back to her community. “I sit back and reflect and it makes you think and it makes you want to cry. I personally sometimes got emotional and I’m just like wow.”

She knows the kids appreciate the kindness.

Reporter:Andrea Guerrero
Writer:Matthew Seaver
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