The eyes of Elizabeth Torres welled with tears of gratitude.
“You don’t know how long we’ve been without!” she said to CPS Energy volunteer Patty Calandres. Mrs. Torres held her daughter, Juliana, as she gathered gifts donated to her children.
CPS Energy partnered with the Salvation Army‘s Angel Tree program this year to help spread Christmas joy to 450 children around San Antonio. Employees and retirees donated thousands of gifts, including clothing, toys, bicycles and sporting equipment. They were distributed to San Antonio families Wednesday and Thursday at the San Antonio Event Center.
“This is my first time volunteering with the Salvation Army but this is really cool,” said CPS Energy UED foreman Gilbert De La Rosa, who often volunteers at company-sponsored events. “I’m having fun seeing all these wonderful gifts we’re helping deliver to the families.”
This is the first time CPS Energy has partnered with the Salvation Army, said Lori Johnson, director of corporate responsibility.
“We wanted to do something that touched more families this year,” Johnson said. “In the past, we’ve done our own toy drive, but we knew the Salvation Army helps so many people.”
The event was incredibly well-organized, she said, and CPS Energy looks forward to participating again next year. Several other local companies and schools also participated; all together, more than 6,000 families received multiple gifts.
Lisa Hernandez, a CPS Energy employee, was one of 60 who volunteered to pass out gifts. She wheeled a grocery cart to an open area where 2,200 boxes were lined up in rows. She traveled down the aisle and stopped in front of the box with her number on it.
Peering inside the box, Lisa collected several gifts, placed them in her cart, then wheeled it into a line of volunteers, each with a shopping cart full of gifts. When it was her turn at the microphone, she called her gift recipient’s name, who arrived by Lisa’s side with a smile on her face.
Lisa sent the gift recipient on her way, both shouting, “Merry Christmas” to everyone around them. She took her shopping cart around the warehouse many times, each time filling it with gifts and delivering it to a fellow San Antonian.
“We don’t get to see the little kids open it on Christmas morning but that’s OK,” Robert Galan, Director of Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, told KSAT’s Eileen Gonzales. “We know it’s happening, and that makes us feel good.”