Christmas is a time of giving and giving back. It’s a time when people come together to remember their friends, family and community. Maribel Valdez, President of the McAllen chapter of LAMA says it’s a time of year she and her club truly enjoy, because it’s a time they can give back to a special group of McAllen ISD students.
Q: Can you give us a bit of background about your club?
A: We are Latin American Motorcycle Association, or LAMA for short. We are the McAllen chapter and were founded in 2015. The LAMA’s were founded in 1977 in Chicago by Mario Nieves. LAMA is a family-oriented organization. Everything our club does involves family and friends. We are an organization that likes to help out the community in any way we can.
Q: Can you explain a bit about what you do for kids at Christmas?
A: We buy gifts for all of the RSD program (regional school for the deaf). They range from the 3-4 year olds all the way to the seniors in high school. We go to three different schools. We start the day off at Escandon Elementary, where they host a little celebration for the kids in the program. We arrive just in time to hand deliver each gift to each child. Their reaction is more than enough of a reason to keep on doing this for them.
Then we go to Brown Middle School where all three grades get together in a room and we present them with their gifts. They are always so excited to see us. Being that we’ve been doing this a few years, we have some kids in middle school that were in elementary when we started.
Finally, we end our day at Memorial High School where we go to a classroom to distribute the gifts to the older kids. For the seniors, we like to do a little extra for them. We get them a basket and fill it with little trinkets and gifts to show them a little extra love while they get ready to say goodbye to high school.
Q: Why did you get started with this endeavor?
A: A few years back we learned, through one of our members, that the RSD program of the RGV was in fact not involved in the school holiday festivities. When I found this out, I knew immediately what our philanthropy would be. We were going to make sure these children felt the love and spirit of the holidays. We continue to do this every year because we love to see the happy smiling faces of all these wonderful children. We want them to know that they are not forgotten. LAMA will always remember them and the joy that they bring to us.
Q: How long have you been doing this?
A: This will be our fourth year doing this for the children. We started in December of 2016.
Q: What are the goals LAMA has for the future?
A: We hope to continue this for many years to come. As long as they’ll have us, we’ll keep coming back.
Q: Do you have any other events y’all do throughout the year?
A: Yes. We also give the seniors another basket at graduation. We like to send them off with a little care package. Much like their Christmas basket, we add little trinkets and gifts that will help them out just a little bit in their new chapter in life.