Troops deliver presents for children at hospital

Posted at 12:25 PM, Dec 20, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:35-04

A military family joined efforts with three companies on Ft. Hood to collect gifts for children at McLane Children's Medical Center in Temple.

On Tuesday, Rita and Javier Puga delivered 100 gifts donated by two companies in the 1st Calvary Division and one company in the 69th Air Defense Artillery.

"Kids deserve some kind of smile on their face, especially with what they're going through," Rita said.

The hospital gives donated presents to their patients for their birthdays, milestones at the hospital and Christmas.

"We would not be able to have Christmas. We would also lack supplies year-round if we didn't have the community in Central Texas supporting us year-round," McLane Children's Medical Center Certified Child Life Specialist Lauren Daniel said.

For the Puga family, donating for this cause was important.

"If we can give back to our community and not everybody is in the same situation as we are. We are grateful that both of our girls are healthy right now so it means a lot to us," Javier said.

Last September, their 16-month old Layla was hospitalized at the medical center after she was born. During her stay, Rita met Leah, a cancer patient that would often ask about her daughter's health. Puga contacted Leah's family last Christmas to deliver two presents to her. The Puga's oldest daughter gave up one of her presents to give to Leah and the couple bought another one. Her parents told the Puga family about her excitement when she unwrapped them.

"They told us that when she opened the present, she forgot she was in the hospital one day and she thought she was home," Rita said.

This year, Rita wanted to bring that smile to other children at the hospital and to support their families.

"They may not be able to afford gifts," Rita said. "If I can do that, I can spare $10 to $20 dollars to help a family. I'm more than happy to do it anytime."

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