It was Christmas in July for thousands of lower-income Valley children Saturday when radio talk show host Glenn Beck’s Mercury One charitable organization rolled into the parking lot at Iglesia Del Pueblo church in Palmview complete with tractor trailer-full loads of food, water, stuffed toys and soccer balls.
As volunteers worked to prepare and serve the kids and their parents breakfast, others handed each child their brand new stuffed toy or soccer ball. Iglesia Del Pueblo pastor Juan De La Garza explained how Mercury One came to be involved with the event meant to help the needy right here in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Some weeks back I got in contact with Glenn Beck through a friend of mine and as a result of our conversation Glenn decided he wanted to do what he could to help those being affected by the border crisis,” said De La Garza. “While Glenn was well aware of the border crisis, I explained that we actually have two issues we’re dealing with down here. We have the issue of the unaccompanied illegal immigrant children and we have the issue of the colonia residents who need help as well. What we came up with, and what we’re doing here today, is a way of dealing with both issues at the same time.”
While Mercury One provided most of the food, water and toys distributed at Saturday’s event, pulling off such a large endeavor would not have been possible had it not been for the hundreds of volunteers who showed up to help. De La Garza said most of the volunteers came from many different churches in the area.
“We have several churches that make up what’s called a One-Church Network,” explained De La Garza. “The churches in this network come together to get involved in situations and events like this one. There are actually around 10 churches represented here and that’s how we were able to get the 500 or so volunteers together we have here today.”
While most of the volunteers at Saturday’s event were local, some traveled hundreds of miles at their own expense simply to help out. The Moore family travelled from Uvalde, Texas to come help with the event.
“We heard about this through Glenn Beck’s radio and television shows, so we thought it would be a good idea to come down here to help,” shared Jason Moore the patriarch of the family.
“I believe that the people that are flooding our borders right now deserve mercy and while I don’t like the fact that our borders are overflowing with people that are coming in illegally, these kids deserve mercy and it’s an effort to say that we’re humans first,” said Moore’s wife Audra.
The Moore children, Caleb and Zoe, were doing their part as well by helping their parents distribute toys and soccer balls to the kids.
As the older of the two Moore children, Caleb was given a choice of either making the trip to the Valley to help out or staying home in Uvalde. Having decided to make the trip he shared his own thoughts about the event when he said, “I’m seeing pretty much what I expected to see down here. It’s sad to see people that don’t get what we take for granted every day. Things like food and a home to live in.”
One other organization that helped make Saturday’s event possible was Operation BBQ Relief. As the group’s founder Bryan McLarty explained how his organization came to be and how he and his volunteers became involved with feeding the underprivileged in south Texas.
“We formed our organization the day after tornadoes hit Joplin, Missouri,” explained McLarty. “A bunch of us barbecue cooks met online and we decided to go up there and do whatever we could to help out. We served the first responders, we served the tornado victims and we served all the volunteers. We served approximately 120,000 meals in 11 days. It grew from there and we now have several thousand volunteers across the country.”
“We’ve served over 500,000 meals in a little less than three years and we’re out here today supporting Mercury One,” added McLarty. “We were supposed to do 1,000 meals for breakfast today, but we’ve done 2,600 so far. We’ve also sent another 1,300 meals to another church in Edinburg. As for lunch, we were planning on doing 1,000 meals here but we’ll probably do around 2,000.”
Anyone who would like to learn more about or make a donation to Mercury One or Operation BBQ Relief can do so by visiting their websites at http://www.mercuryone.org/ or http://operationbbqrelief.org/.