Donna High School teacher Fidel Castillo still remembers the day eight years ago when he was given the tragic news about his sibling.
Castillo said his 42-year-old brother had come down with a severe virus and died as a result. The family was devastated. Not only did they lose a loved one, Castillo said his parents were going through a tough time financially.
That’s when the Employees Emergency Foundation stepped in to help. Castillo said the non-profit organization donated money to help with his brother’s funeral expenses. “My sister, who is an employee of the district, was nominated by a co-worker for funding consideration,” Castillo said. “The committee met and agreed to award my parents $500. They couldn’t be happier. They’re low income and this financial help came at a time when they really needed it the most.”
The Employees Emergency Foundation was created in the year 2000. It was started by an employee of the Donna Independent School District after a teacher at one of the schools came forward and expressed that she was in dire need of help. “The teacher was stricken with cancer and couldn’t afford to pay her medical bills,” foundation committee chairperson Roel Tovar said. “That’s what prompted a fundraiser within the district.”
This is how it works. Donna ISD employees are invited to donate through payroll deduction. “They can contribute any amount on a monthly basis when they get paid,” Tovar said. “They can give $5, $10 $25 or more if they wish. Any amount is welcomed. The money is then transferred to the foundation’s account.”
Employees and community members are also encouraged to participate in the 14th Annual 5k Fun Run/Walk at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Altas Palmas Park located at S. 1st Street and Silver Avenue. The proceeds raised goes to the foundation account. “This event is our biggest fundraiser. It’s open to anyone who wants to participate. The entry fee is $15. We hope to see a big crowd again this year.”
Tovar said employee nominations are submitted and reviewed by the committee. If the individual meets the criteria, he or she could be awarded up to $500. “The money raised is made available to employees who qualify. The committee considers employees with critical long-term illnesses or who lost a loved one.”
Tovar admits funding in the account is dwindling and hopes employees will have it in their hearts to participate in the payroll deduction or 5K race. He said the funds can be a big help. “Since the fundraiser’s inception, the committee has been able to raise over a quarter of a million dollars and has helped over 500 Donna ISD employees,” Tovar said. “It’s an incredible feeling to know we’re helping the Donna ISD community.”
People interested in participating in the fundraiser can contact 956-460-1724.