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Please see below for a heartwarming story from Krystal Figueroa, an Operation Santa Claus box recipient.

Krystal.jpgI grew up relatively poor and experienced years where I lived comfortably and years where my family had to live on a very tight budget. It was not easy, but I did not complain. I might have not gotten everything that I wanted but I had everything I needed. There was a period where my family was one of the many in the community to receive an Operation Santa Claus box. I remember how excited my family was to receive those boxes. When my parents could not afford gifts for me and my two younger siblings, this care package was everything. It made Christmas feel whole again.

There was one year that has stuck with me after all these years. My younger sister and I were sitting by the tree looking through the care package we received that year. We got pastries, toys, books, and two throw blankets. My sister and I picked up a blanket each and immediately wrapped ourselves. During the winter, the inside of our trailer would become the temperature of the outside since we did not have much heat. Some mornings, I could see my breath on my way to the bathroom. Some nights my siblings and I had to sleep in the same bed because the night was supposed to be unbearably cold. There were times where I would fall asleep in a jacket, jeans, and shoes on. The worst part was that we only had two space heaters for all of us to share.

When my sister and I saw those blankets, we did not see a decoration or just another gift. We saw warmth. We saw another layer to protect us from the near freezing temperatures of our Palacios winter. We saw comfort. That moment has stuck with me ever since.

When I finally made it to high school, I made a point to volunteer for Operation Santa Claus each year I could. I helped wrap gifts and set up those care packages. It was the least I could do after everything they did for me.

So why should you support Operation Santa Claus? You should support this beautiful cause because there are children and families that are the same position, I was in all those years ago. They deserve to have a wonderful Christmas, too.

Krystal is in her senior year at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in public health.
 

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