Gabriela Delivering Backpack to ChildThe Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities and Comidas Saludables Gente Sana en el Sur de Tejas (Healthy Food and Healthy People in South Texas) would like to thank TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health faculty, students and staff who helped prepare more than 68 children (21 families) in the San Carlos and Alton-area colonias for the 2010 school year.

“After a successful Christmas in the Colonias gift drive last year, observations from field work and comments from team promotoras, we decided to plan a mid-year activity to benefit the families in the colonias,” said Joseph Sharkey, Ph.D., RD, professor and head of the program. “Team promotoras identified a great need for children’s back-to-school items, and the back-to-school promotion began with the idea of providing a new backpack and school supplies for each child. Most families’ homes do not have screened windows, fans or air conditioning, and sponsors provided a portable fan for each family to ameliorate the heat as well as $20 Wal-Mart gift cards for each child to purchase items necessary for school such as shoes or clothing. Beauty and hygiene products were also distributed in gift bags to mothers.”

TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health graduate students Cassie Johnson, Gabriela Arandia and Melissa Gomez prepared the items for distribution to each family. Dr. Sharkey and Arandia traveled to San Carlos and Alton to join with Julie St. John, M.P.H., Center for Community Health Development South Texas regional director, and team promotoras Maria Davila, Thelma Aguillon and Maggie Aguinaga to personally deliver the items to each family.

The children enjoyed their new backpacks, each personalized with a nametag and purchased for them specifically. Many of the mothers expressed their sincere gratitude to the sponsors who made the event possible.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child or family in the second annual Christmas in the Colonias gift drive, please contact Raquel Flores at raflores@srph.tamshc.edu or Arandia at arandia@srph.tamhsc.edu.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell