By JB Clark
SALTILLO – When the Saltillo Junior Women’s Club called on residents to help the city’s needy families this Christmas, the response was resounding support in the way of toys and clothes.
The club, together with counselors at each of Saltillo’s schools, set out to create a sort of local Angel Tree to benefit struggling families in their school district, called Saltillo Shining Stars.
“To begin with, the teachers and counselors are the ones who went to the families, knowing where there was a need and said, ‘Would you be interested in participating in this project?’” said Sonya Burnett of the Saltillo Junior Women’s Club. “They filled out sheets with things they’re interested in to help us shop. If you’re going to get what they want, you need to know sports teams they like and favorite colors.”
Two stars were hung on a tree at Saltillo City Hall for each of the 60 children, one for clothes and one for toys. Each star was fulfilled, additional monetary donations were made and Burnett said more than 15 people have contacted her and City Hall to see how they could help after the stars were gone.
Burnett said she was initially worried not all of the 60 children’s Christmas lists would be fulfilled but the support of the community has been overwhelming.
Burnett’s dining room and van have been overtaken by the generosity of Saltillo residents. The toys and clothes will be packaged and distributed to their respective families this week.
“It’s kind of mind boggling to see how big of a need there is just here in Saltillo,” said William Burnett, Sonya’s husband. “It’s really eye opening.”
The club has done similar projects on a much smaller scale at Saltillo Primary School for the past eight years and this year, club member Hope McCoy said, they wanted to help the rest of the city’s children.
“There are other kids who have wish lists, too, and it’s not just the little ones,” McCoy said.
The families helped are people Burnett said have experienced a loss of a job, a house fire or sickness.
“Some of the families we helped last year as a club aren’t on the list,” Burnett said. “One of the counselors said she saw families who were helped last year who are helping other families this year.”