Analee Ferry, a third grader at Rawson Saunders School in Austin, said she and her classmates decided to raise money for the Castillo family because they wanted to make sure baby Mariana got the support she needs.
Mariana, 2, has a rare neuromuscular genetic disorder that requires her to use a ventilator and feeding tube.
“We talked about her needing more support and medical help, and we talked about how it is very difficult for her to get around because she needs extra help to get a place,” said Analee. “We learned how she eats and how she takes her medication and how she uses ramps in her house. … We just wanted to shine a little in her life and believe that it will really help her. ”
Rawson Saunders students voted to provide donations and gifts to the Castillos after reading about family through the Statesman’s Season for Caring program, which serves hundreds of families each year through local nonprofits. The Castillo family was nominated by Any Baby Can, which helps families with children with special needs.
Continue reading:Natalia Castillo: Every day brings blessings to the mother of a fragile child
Mariana was born 34 weeks prematurely in 2019 and stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for months. Her mother, Natalia Castillo, works from the family home in Kyle and, with the help of a rotating nurse, helps organize eight home therapy appointments per week and about five doctor appointments per month.
The Rawson Saunders families raised $ 1,850 in cash and gift cards and $ 245 in items previously purchased on the family’s Amazon wish list. The fundraiser culminated in a Christmas chant on campus with music teacher Nicole Gordon giving gifts for the family to Any Baby Can representative Jennifer Peterson.
Gordon, who organized the school’s support for the Castillos, said she wanted students to have the opportunity to connect with someone who has a different life experience than they may have.
“You often hear that there are families in need or there are families who can’t afford an iPad for Christmas and don’t have enough to eat,” she said. “But hearing a real story and having a connection to a real name and video and pictures of a family they think they met makes all the difference.”
Peterson told students at the convention that the nonprofit helps children and families focus on what they can do, not what they can’t.
How to donate:How to Help Families through the Statesman Season for Caring program
“Sometimes when we work really hard and stay hopeful and you show love like you did today, we are able to do things we never thought we could do,” said Peterson . “Thank you for helping Mariana do things she never thought she would be able to do.”
Peterson told the statesman it was heartwarming to see a community come together to support the Castillos. Natalia Castillo made a thank you video for the students because she was unable to attend the meeting in person. In the video, she answered some of their questions and showed them how to feed Mariana through her gastrostomy tube.
“We don’t just want to influence the community on a small scale with a family, but as a whole we want to help our community flourish. So when we see that kids really stand behind this and show that support, it just feels good, ”said Peterson. “We have a lot of families that are not represented in this campaign and we have seen so many needs over the past few years, especially just basic needs. … We just very much hope that whatever people are contributing to the campaign understand that they are not only helping this family; You help all these others who don’t write a story about you. “
The Castillo family still has a few important things on their wish list, including replacing all of the carpet with wood or tile floors, enlarging and accessing the bathroom, installing wheelchair ramps, and maintaining and replacing the family’s van.
To add an item to the Castillos wish list, contact Any Baby Can at 512-454-3743, anybabycan.org.
More help needed:Austin Season for Caring families seek help with medical bills and supplies
More season for foster families need your help
Over the past several years, communities, Boy Scouts, co-workers, friends, and families have selected a family to focus their attention on and help them achieve their desires.
This year another school selected the Rivera family from Liberty Hill, and Hillcrest Baptist Church helped Cheryl Selby.
Community donations:‘Overwhelmed with the blessing.’ The Austin Church helps the family’s elderly family get home warm for the winter
Other families would be happy if a group supports them:
Arelis López Guzman has two daughters and one is on the way. You come from Guatemala and are looking for asylum. Contact Foundation Communities at 512-447-2026, foundcom.org.
Musician BJ Lentz went blind in 2017 after hitting his head. Contact the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, 512-541-4226, myhaam.org.
Tahaguas Abraha, a 20-year-old freshman at the University of Texas, came to the United States with her aunt and uncle three years ago after living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Contact Central Texas Interfaith Action, 512-386-9145, interfaithtexas.org.
Grandmother Diana Sneed lost her house in a fire in July. Contact Meals On Wheels Central Texas, 512-476-6325, Meals On Wheels centraltexas.org.
Siblings Tre, Deaza and Railyne Gaston-Ellis are raising their teenage siblings Kaiden and Kalieve after their mother died of COVID-19 in August. Contact Austin Hospice at 512-342-4726, hospiceaustin.org.
Shilda and Venard Fresch are about to grow their family from eight to ten when they become foster parents to premature twins. You have adopted three siblings of the twins. Contact Dress for Success Austin, 737-471-6377, dressforsuccessaustin.org.
Judy and Juan Silva take care of their 67-year-old brother Ramon, who has had a stroke and Down syndrome. Contact Austin Palliative Care, 512-342-4768, austinpalliativecare.org.
The Burnett family has been living in motels for a year. Contact the Austin Area Boys & Girls Clubs at 512-817-8910, bgcaustin.org.
Donate to Statesman Season for Caring
The Sheth family raises up to $ 500,000 in donations.
Learn more about Season for Caring, read the stories of the featured families and donate at Statesman.com/seasonforcaring. You can also find a voucher for sending a donation on Page 2B.