Two migrating Guatemalan mothers received an abundance of gifts from four local families, who would like to remain anonymous, here in Fort Stockton last Friday.
The immigrant Guatemalan mothers were first spotted behind the Burger King with their children, shivering in the cold. Assuming that all of the bus station employees only spoke English, the two mothers were not aware of the indoor waiting area for bus riders. The mothers also stated that they did not notice the waiting area tucked away in the back of the gas station.
Once escorted inside by the Fort Stockton families, the mothers shared the adversities they have faced during their travels through Texas. According to both mothers, they were all detained by immigration officers for two days and one night in a detention facility. The mother's do not recall the facility or the city where they were detained.
One mother detailed the experience.
"It was very cold in there. They stripped us down to little to nothing. It felt like the cold air was an additional punishment towards us. The cold air was blowing directly on us the whole time, and even one of children has gotten sick from being in there. They also put these ankle monitors on us (lifts pant leg). I'm so happy that our children don't have to wear these. My ankle monitor is on so tight that it actually hurts for me to walk," said Sarah.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents issued the GPS ankle monitors to locate the immigrant families during their voyages through the U.S.
Sarah also said that her worn shoes were becoming very painful for her to wear.
Another concern within the group was Sarah's 16-year-old daughter, Leslie, who is battling rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and malnutrition.
After listening to the struggles and needs, the four local families brought a bounty of gifts to the two Guatemalan families at the bus station. They supplied brand new shoes for both mothers and all of their children. They even brought soft slippers for Sarah, to give her feet some relief as she waited on her bus. Other gifts included sandwiches, warm winter clothing, and teddy bears.
After the two mothers and children gazed at their new gifts, the anonymous givers took the children shopping at Walmart. Each little boy was allowed to purchase a brand new remote control car of their choice.
Leslie received new clothes, gloves, and supplements to help aid her painful RA condition. The supplements purchased for Leslie included calcium, vitamin D3 and ginger root.
Sarah had saved up some money to purchase a small phone, so the families purchased the phone for her and activated it to last an entire month.
Sarah's son Augustine was thrilled to drink a bottle of Mountain Dew and shared his joy.
"It's very rare that we drink soda. This is a special drink for me. The very first time I got to drink a soda it felted very funny in my throat, but I liked it," said Augustine.
The economic refugees’ midnight bus finally arrived. The mother named Carmen headed to Atlanta with her son, and Sarah left for Kansas with her three children. The Fort Stockton "secret Santas" left a lasting impression on the two mothers and children.
One of the anonymous givers shared how they have been encouraged by the encounter.
"My heart broke for this family. Helping this family was a real eye-opener for me. It really is better to give than to receive. I was at the Christmas parade on one side of town, and this family was in need on the other side of town. Most of the time we get so self-centered that we forget to look around us and notice the great need that is there. Two of the greatest Biblical commands are love God and love people. Love is action."
The latest update on 16-year-old Leslie is that her pain has increased, and she has stopped eating. Her mother, Sarah, took her to a hospital in Kansas for medical attention on Tuesday, Dec. 8.