And Once Again, We Need Your Help!
One thing I’ve noticed here in Comanche, Texas is that it sometimes takes new blood to get something great going. I’ve seen it too many times not to realize this fact. Kerry Dudley and her work with Santa’s Helpers is a perfect example of this very thing.
Kerry moved here “for good,” as she is prone to say, in 1976. She married T.J. Dudley in 1978, and they reared three sons, and the rest is history I suppose; however, to many, many citizens of our area, Kerry’s willingness to help is much more than simply history.
Here at Texansunited.com we caught up with Kerry and asked her just exactly how it was that she came to be the face of Santa’s Helpers here in Comanche.
“Bill Davis and Marie Hill started Santa’s Helpers in 1982. In 1983, they put an ad in the paper asking for helpers, and I actually just responded to that ad. From there, everything just fell into place.”
Fell into place with a tremendous amount of hard work, I’d have to say, coupled with a tremendous desire to help others.
“The first year Bill and Marie helped thirty families. The next year that number rose to over sixty-five, and I thought that I must have lost my mind!
“We were in the basement of the Methodist Church and had people showing up at the same time with no appointments. We sorted jeans, toys, food, etc. and worked and worked and worked. People gave us so much, and it was absolutely crazy!”
By Kerry’s second year, she had an interview process in place, and she had garnered help from various organizations.
“My first year we did not do interviews; we just helped pretty much anyone who walked in the door. Today we help 120-130 families each year, but we are much more organized about it.
“We always start the weekend after Thanksgiving. I go by the poverty guidelines and a lot of common sense.”
Interview questions include such things as whether or not someone has a computer and what model vehicle he/she drives.
“There has to be a real exception as to why someone would be driving a new vehicle, and of course there are some exceptions such as a death or a major medical emergency. These things can always cause a family to suddenly have needs that it would not normally have experienced.
“Of course, we also have those that we help every year. We have children who have never known another Christmas other than the one we provide.
“Last year we simplified a lot once again. I still work with Brookshire’s, but now we purchase gift cards in the amount of $25.00-$30.00. This has helped us so very much because it saves us untold hours of sorting and it saves our backs!
“Of course we get a lot of food donated, and we use this for seniors, really large families, etc. We also buy strictly in Comanche except for our tricycles.
“The things we always need every year are coats, blankets, underwear, socks, these types of things in any size can always be used. We hear stories every year about children who share all of these items because the family does not have enough for every child.
“We see so much, down to families who run extension cords from one house to another in order to share electricity.
“All in all, I’d have to say it was a God Thing. I just happened to read in the Chief about an opportunity to help, and I had been thinking about how I might could serve. Little did I did I know that it would take over my life…
“I know my family was put on the back burner so many times, and this is why I eventually had to streamline the process, but it has been hard on our family. However, everyone has been wonderful about it, and everyone has always pitched in and helped me get it done.”
And get it done they do, and in wonderful, caring style, I might add. She may not know it, but Kerry Dudley has been nothing short of a role model for a generation of young people who have watched her and have seen what serving others at the expense of self is truly all about. I can attest to this because when I was a high school teacher, my students worked hand in hand with this program…I’ll even go so far as to brag on them because one year my students personally sponsored twenty-six families!
Many of these same kiddos, long since all grown up, still work with the charitable organizations in the towns where they currently live, and Iwould encourage you to consider having your own young people join in to help. It never hurts for young people to learn that not everyone has life as easy as they do.
As usual, Kerry is always quick with thanks to her largest donor, Durham Pecan Company, along with everyone else who make this program possible.
Kerry was quick to point out throughout the entire interview that she has not done this tremendous project alone, not at all.
“John and Virginia Webb have been helping me so long that none of us know exactly when they started, but it has been at least ten or fifteen years. They put out the jars, do the food hauling, count the money, meet with me on a weekly basis, etc. The main thing they give me is peace of mind because I never have to worry that things will be done; I know that they will.”
She also is so very grateful to the late Bill Davis for allowing them to crowd into his place for several years as well as to the Methodist Church.
“We have been at the Methodist Church for the past ten years or so, and they have been so gracious. They let us invade their space, plus they help us and they support me totally.”
Kerry is in her 30th year with Santa’s Helpers, AND…once again, she needs your help…especially those willing to adopt a family or a senior. Santa’s Helpers focuses on children age 10 and down, and they do deliver to shut ins and the disabled.
If you can help in any way, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.