One of the greatest joys we have at the Transcript Bulletin has nothing to do with providing award-winning community journalism on Tooele County. It’s a lot simpler than that, but more importantly, it comes from the heart.
“I’m trying so hard not to cry,” is what 13-year-old Maria Escamilla said last Tuesday night when Transcript Bulletin staff members arrived at her family’s Tooele home with bags of gifts and a check for $2,500.
The gifts and money were made possible by generous donations from readers who gave to the Transcript Bulletin’s 2014 Benefit Fund drive. The newspaper’s staffers were joined by Cpl. Mike Jones from the Grantsville City Police Department and his wife, Melissa, who also came to give a K-9 demonstration to the family as a gift.
Since last Tuesday night, readers have brought in more cash and checks totaling over $800. Another joyful delivery trip to the Escamilla home will happen this week.
The donated gifts and money have helped the Escamilla family of father Jose, mother Wendy, daughters Maria and Rosa, and sons Jose and Angel enjoy Christmas this year. Until they were chosen as this year’s benefit fund recipient family, their Christmas prospects looked grim.
Since last February, the Escamillas have been hard hit with costly medical expenses, after both Maria and Rosa came down with serious health problems. The costs have been so great, that Jose’s wages have been garnished to pay down on medical bills. According to Wendy, the family has had to “pick and choose” what to pay for each week. Jose said as Christmas approached, his children accepted the family’s financial situation.
“They don’t say anything,” he said. “We know they want things, but they understand we have bills to pay.”
Even during interviews for introductory stories on the benefit fund, the children never voluntarily spoke of wanting anything for Christmas.
Remarkably, the strain on the family’s finances hasn’t pulled them apart. Instead, it has brought them closer to a higher plane of compassion and understanding toward each other. They found joy in simpler things, and doing them together. We find that inspiring, a real example of a family finding strength and dignity from within. But the younger Jose perhaps put it best: “We don’t really think about it. We just do it.”
The annual Transcript Bulletin Benefit Fund was created nearly 30 years ago to help a person or family in the community with a unique and troubling need at Christmas. Numerous persons and families over the years have come to know Tooele County citizens as deeply generous.
To every citizen that contributed to this year’s benefit fund, your kindness and generosity are sincerely appreciated. Because of you, a family with a unique and troubling need experienced the warmth and love of Christmas — and the unforgettable difference compassionate souls do make.
After the gifts and check were distributed last Tuesday night, and the Escamilla family had watched the K-9 demonstration in their front yard, everyone stepped back inside their home. As a few more family portraits were being photographed for a news story, the Escamillas fell silent. It was obvious they were stunned and humbled by the generosity they had just received.
Then Wendy looked up and spoke with heartfelt sincerity, “Thank you. Thank you so much.”