Pueblo American GI Forum keeps students well supplied
The middle of a pandemic, Patsy Vazquez-Contes maintains, is the ideal time to reach out to those in need, especially children.
After recently providing a mobile lunch to essential workers, Vazquez-Contes, her husband Luis and their American GI Forum associates distributed $4,500 worth of school supplies, and sanitation items, to nearly 100 in-need youngsters from Pueblo School District 60 and Pueblo County School District 70.
The drive-through giveaway took place last week in front of the AGIF chapterhouse on Hector Garcia Place. There, a stream of recipients gratefully accepted the supply filled backpacks, cold soft drinks and snacks, and ever-present words of encouragement from their benefactors.
A fundraiser provided the financial means to purchase the wares from partnering retailers Walmart and Sam's Club.
"We went the extra yard to put sanitizer and masks in the bags," said Vazquez-Contes, the AGIF chairwoman. "We feel the need to stop the spread of the virus. Our organization is small, but we are mighty, and we are going to continue, on both a local and national level, to promote our mission: ’education is our freedom, and freedom should be everybody's business.’
"We know we are living in a pandemic but we also realize the importance of education, from pre-K through 12th grade. That's why we are working so hard out here."
As the event unfolded, Henry Borunda, who is establishing a business next door to the chapterhouse, learned that local schoolchildren would be benefiting from AGIF’s generosity.
Without hesitation, he signed and donated a $500 check to the cause.
"They're my neighbors and they're good people," Borunda said. "So I just wanted to say 'hi.'"
Visiting from Texas, Jax Lee, 6, the grandson of Vazquez-Contes, was instrumental in handing out the school supplies as vehicle after vehicle pulled up to the distribution station.
In between visits, little Jax ensured all items were in place in anticipation of the next arrival. His work ethic generated smiles on the faces of Vazquez-Contes and Luis Contes, who serves as AGIF commander.
"I'm so proud of him," Vazquez-Contes said. "We want him to learn that the American GI Forum leads by example, and he is doing that by being out here today.“
Chieftain reporter Jon Pompia can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at twitter.com/jpompia. Help support local journalism by subscribing to the Chieftain at chieftain.com/subscribenow