The Pueblo West View

GI Forum members, Walmart, DA Chostner spread holiday cheer

The local chapter of the American GI Forum and its women’s chapter brought some Christmas cheer to both young and old Friday.

In partnership with Walmart and District Attorney Jeff Chostner, forum members gifted a gaggle of giggly students in the Rocky Mountain SER Teddy Bear Class with a colorful backpack filled with school supplies. Each of the youngsters also took home a turkey to ensure a hearty holiday meal.

Friday evening, both veterans and deserving families were presented turkeys at the AGIF Hall.

In all, 70 turkeys were handed out, and countless smiles and grateful gestures were returned.

At the Rocky Mountain SER, the youngsters waited in anticipation as Patsy Vazquez-Contes, AGIF chairwoman, prefaced the giveaway with an important statement.

“We are a family veterans organization and our mission is: ‘Education is our freedom, and freedom should be everybody’s business.’

“When you finish this school, there’s other schools you have to go to, leading all the way to high school. And then after that, there’s some more doors you have to open, and that’s college.”

And while their educational future is certainly of great importance, the SER little ones had more pressing things on their mind.

“I want a princess backpack!”

“Look, there’s crayons inside!”

“Wow! This is cool.”

As a gesture of thankfulness, Vazquez-Contes was presented with a giant card from the class, signed by all the grateful tykes.

“You’re all welcome,” Vazquez-Contes added. “We love to see smiley faces.”

Luis Vazquez-Contes complemented his wife’s message with a final word of advice.

“Be good boys and good girls and listen to your teachers . . . all of them.”

At the AGIF Hall, veterans were presented turkeys “as a token of appreciation for their service,” in Patsy Vazquez-Contes’ words, as were families in need.

“At least we know they will have a nice Christmas or New Year’s Day dinner,” she added.

There are about 100 members in the local American GI Forum chapter.

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