Holiday wishes granted for essay winners


If given three Christmas wishes, what would your children wish for? Chances are their lists would look different from the ones these children created.

"Some of these children, they wish mom doesn't hit them anymore and daddy doesn't yell at mama," said founder of Navidad en el Barrio, Israel Gomez, Jr.

Two thousand elementary school aged boys and girls, from 50 Houston-area elementary schools wrote essays, detailing their special Christmas wishes.

"Some of our essay winners asked for food for their refrigerators, clothes for their brothers and sisters," said Gomez.

In Guadalupe Arredondo's winning essay she wished for jobs for immigrants and an end to poverty -- and there's one more thing.

"And I want a laptop to do my homework because sometimes my mom doesn't go to the library," Arredondo.

Thanks to the annual "Navidad en el Barrio" and angels like Cathy Perez, kids like Guadalupe are getting a bicycle, in addition to some of the basics, for writing winning essays.

"They're mature in ways that the average child may not be," said Perez.

Retired Houston police officer Israel Gomez, Jr. started the program nearly a quarter century ago and says granting little wishes.

"Like a bible, like a bag of cheetos, like sheets for their twin sized bed," said Gomez.

The charity can inspire big changes in the future of these young writers.

"We can't have kids stop dreaming." said Perez. "When they stop dreaming, things stop to happen."

Part of the program includes uniformed police officers handing out gifts. Gomez says that's because he wants the children to strengthen the positive links between police officers and the community and allow children to identify police officers as their friends.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.