Central ‘heroes’ help hundreds

Martha Towles sorts through clothing Saturday at the Central High School holiday giveaway, for which students collected more than 500 pounds of garments and hundreds of toys for the less fortunate. They converted the school cafeteria into a store and invited the public to shop for free.

Despite his full-time job at a laundry service, one Grand Junction man is unable to pay all the bills and also buy clothes and toys for his children this Christmas.

Mitchell Martinez watched over his infant son at Central High School on Saturday morning while the rest of the family took part in an annual giving celebration organized by students known as Holiday Heroes.

Martinez’ disabled spouse, Lena, an epileptic, hunted through piles of clothes while her three daughters looked for toys. Her son, an infant, rested peacefully nearby.

“We came because we don’t have that much money this year,” Martinez said. “This really helped out a lot. It was a lot more than we expected. We have four kids, so .... I’m working, but they don’t pay me enough.”

Holiday Heroes is part of the Service Learning program at Central High.

The program involves students in a variety of community outreach activities, including the annual Christmas clothes and toy drive, said Tonka Little-Fawn, 15, a sophomore.

Last year, the program helped more than 200 families. This year, students collected more than 500 pounds of clothing and hundreds of toys to help even more, Little-Fawn said.

“We just collected all this stuff and then organized it this week,” he said. “We are helping families who are in need of help. We’re trying to help them stay warm and be happy.”

The heroes are all the people who donated, especially Fashion Runway, 2454 U.S. Highway 6&50, which collected most of the clothes, Little-Fawn said.

That was a blessing for Martha Towles, who arrived in Grand Junction from Pampa, Texas, a few months ago after the death of her mother.

Towles cared for her mother for several years before she died. Now her son, Jarret, is helping to take care of her.

She’s just been diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s beautiful here,” Towles said. “The people are wonderful. At times like this, it blows my mind that people are so good.”

Towles receives medical care for her condition through Mesa County Human Services and the Marillac Clinic. Her children help, too, but they are all in their 20s and can only do so much.

“My kids — they can’t afford to clothe me,” Towles said. “They’re just getting their little old lives started.”

She found a coat and two pair of shoes, winter clothes she did not own or need in Texas.

Adriana Murrieta, 16, a sophomore, and Cyra Lapena, 16, a junior, both helped organize the drive, which started on the first day of school, Murrieta said.

“I feel way good helping families that don’t have as much, because it’s hard,” Lapena said. “You can’t help what you and your family are going through.”


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