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Valley Shelter Preparing for Possible Caravan Migrant Influx

2 years 1 month 1 week ago Wednesday, October 24 2018 Oct 24, 2018 October 24, 2018 9:43 PM October 24, 2018 in News

WESLACO – Those who help immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley are preparing for a possible influx of Central Americans traveling in the caravan.

Even without the possible arrival, they're already overtaxed.

Catholic Charities and law enforcement held meetings Monday and Tuesday.

They don't know where the caravan is heading but, if they come to the Valley, they want to be prepared.

Almost every corner you turn, you see people in need and those giving them aid.

It's busier at the Catholic Charities Respite Center these days.

"It's very similar right now what we're experiencing to 2014,” say Sister Norma Pimentel.

About 500 people a day are filling into the center; they are not caravan members, but Sister Pimentel is preparing for the possibility.

"We are identifying locations should we need it. Right now, we are using the space in San Juan. The Basilica of San Juan is providing a lot of the space that we need, additional space. We are also looking at other additional spaces down town," she says.

They're also looking to community partners for help with meals.

"As of today, we are providing 300 meals per day to the San Juan Respite Center run by Catholic Charities,” announces Captain Stephen Correira, Hidalgo County Salvation Army Commanding Officer.

That is in addition to the 400 meals the Salvation Army already provides per week at the McAllen location.

Capt. Correira says the help began in 2014 and now it has expanded to McAllen and San Juan.

This need could grow even more with the arrival of caravan members.

The Salvation Army says "there's no budgeting for a crisis," but they don't plan on stopping.

"It is a strain for us to provide this service, but we understand that as much as it is a strain on us, how much more so who would otherwise go without meals. So, the Salvation Army is preparing to provide these meals regardless," says Capt. Correira.

Whether the caravan arrives at Valley ports of entry, or other families who were already on their way, Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army continue to serve and hope help is rendered to them too.

They are asking for help from the community in the form of clothing, preferably in the smaller sizes for children, women and men. 

Items such as sweaters, hoodies, shoes, socks, belts and pants are needed. 

They are also accepting food donations like cereal, fruit and sandwich ingredients.

Both the Salvation Army and the Catholic Charities Respite Center welcome monetary donations, but both stress the need for more volunteers.

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