Pancho Claus asking for volunteers, donations to help provide 15,000 toys this holiday season

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- This year marks the 40th anniversary of Richard Reyes' portrayal of Pancho Claus gifting toys to children in need.

Volunteers gathered at the Latino Learning Center on Polk on Saturday to help decorate 100 donation boxes for Pancho Claus.

SEE RELATED STORY: Volunteers needed for Pancho Claus event at Latino Learning Center

"If you have a store, a beauty shop, a family party, a company party, any kind of business or gathering, you can come here to Latino Learning Center on Polk and Scott and pick up a box, and we'd be happy if you did," said Reyes.

The pandemic has impacted their efforts again this year.

Pancho Claus said they do not have any corporate sponsors, which means they lost most of their funding. The number of children in need has increased due to many families facing financial hardships.

"Last year the need was so great because of COVID. People losing their jobs and trying to pay back bills that we had requests for 15,000 gifts," Pancho Claus said. "So, it's like 50% more, and there's no reason not to believe that it's not going to be even bigger this year."

He said people can help by either picking up a donation box or filling it with toys for children of all ages. Folks can also donate to the GoFundMe page.

"We are not going to refuse any family," Pancho Claus said. "Every child is going to get a toy, but our goal was to give every child seven toys. If we don't have the money, maybe they will get three toys. They will still have something, though."

For updates on this story, follow Roxie Bustamante on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.