IMPERIAL, Calif. - On Sunday, the community of City of Imperial came out to give an early Christmas to 26 families and their 58 kids.
Mercedes Watson, Patient Navigator for Cancer Resource Center of the Desert, explained, “An event like this helps them because we’re able to provide them with gifts. It also gives them a chance to socialize with one another.”
CRCD, Halos & Tiaras and Johnny’s Burritos surprised them with games, food and gifts for everyone.
“These families require assistance all year long. If you think about it, if you come from a two-working household and you have a child that’s diagnosed with cancer, one parent has to stop working to take care of that child and be in San Diego with them,” Watson said.
Organizers said fighting cancer is expensive and exhausting.
“Initially when someone is first diagnosed, in my experience, especially if it’s Leukemia, they’re in the hospital for up to a month until they get stabilized,” Watson said.
And the need continues to grow locally.
“These are children that we work with year round. Some of the individuals have lost their child due to cancer, and we continue to invite them to the events and they help. Just last week we had two families register with us that are diagnosed with cancer,” Watson said.
Ruby Palomino, owner of Johnny’s Burritos in Imperial, said giving back to the community is a long-standing family tradition.
“My grandfather, Johnny, was really big on community and the human connection. I was able to look at myself and my life and be grateful for what I have. It was a beautiful thing, to witness people come together for such a great cause,” Palomino said.
She said helping others is a life-changing experience.
“By giving to others, we also give to ourselves. We’re thinking that we’re changing their lives – in reality, like for me, they’re changing my life,” Palomino said.