Most children writing their Christmas lists this year had the simple things in mind: toys, games, etc.
But unfortunately, many families are still reeling from the hurricanes that devastated the country earlier this year. And for those children, toys are the last thing on their minds.
Betzabe Gomez, from Harris County, Texas, has only just turned nine years old. But this year she’s been dealing with things no child should have to deal with—seeing her family through a major crisis.
When Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston area this summer, the Gomez family’s already modest house was badly damaged. They were reportedly unable to get aid from FEMA, so they’ve been weathering life in their dilapidated home.
“It was raining too hard, the rooftop made a giant hole,” Betzabe told KHOU.
“Sometimes we have to put a giant bucket so the rain doesn’t get in.”
Since the storm, conditions have only gotten worse, and the family has put makeshift fixes to keep the weather out.
“Now there’s holes on the wall,” Betzabe explained.
The damage came at an already difficult time for the family. Betzabe’s father suffers from medical issues like diabetes and high cholesterol.
Seeing the toll all of this has taken on her family left Betzabe feeling down. She was also self-conscious about living in her broken-down home, worried what her classmates would think.
“I just want to explain my whole life … what I’ve been going through,” she told KHOU with tears in her eyes.
She needed a miracle … and with Christmas around the corner, she decided to reach out to Santa Claus.
“I’ve always been believing in him,” she said. “I thought he could help me.”
Over at a friend’s house, she decided to write a letter to the North Pole—instead of asking for gifts under the tree, she asked for a new roof over her head:
I need help in my house because when it’s raining, the rain comes in. When I look at it, I am sad. This is why I want help and what if it floods in there. Also, we don’t have no concrete under the carpet. Also, when I come next to the wall the thing is, it’s a giant hole. Anyway, when I come close to the room and the hole I can feel the rain and when It’s raining we have to put a bucket.
P.S. I will leave milk, cookies and carrots and water.
From: Betzabe Gomez
But for Betzabe, it was more than a wish to Santa—it was a way to be heard and get her feelings out.
And while Santa didn’t exactly come down and fix her roof, a miracle did happen after she wrote the letter.
Her friends mother saw the heartbreaking plea and sent it to her teachers at Worsham Elementary. They were touched by the letter and soon it reached the hands of State Representative Armando Walle, who shared her story on his Facebook page.
As the story went viral, more and more people came out to help.
When Harris County police officers saw the story on Facebook, they arrived at Betzabe’s door with a cake to celebrate her 9th birthday.
But that wasn’t all. People in the community were donating gifts, and neighbors even lent the family a Christmas tree for the holidays.
Betzabe has been incredibly grateful for the support.
Despite everything, the family got to celebrate a very Merry Christmas this year.
But of course, there was still the damage to the home—but not for long.
Community organizers have agreed to finally repair the damage in the Gomez’s home.
And Betzabe, who was once worried what people would think of her “poor” house, soon learned that her friends always have her back when a classmate came to visit:
“I was pretty depressed because I thought he’d see the hole in my house,” she told KHOU. “But he said ‘Oh, don’t worry, because we’re your friends, and we’ll take care of [you].”
Betzabe has been thrilled that her Christmas wish has come true, thanks to the kind strangers in her community—but she also knows she’s not alone, and hopes her story serves as a reminder that there are other children still in need after the storm.
“I think other people have been going through this too,” an emotional Betzabe told KHOU. “Other, much more people have been going through this. A hard time, through life.”