Iowa Couple Supports Local Causes through Generosity
by Rocio Villalobos
In the four years Steve and Jean Fisher have spent their winter in the Rio Grande Valley, they have impacted hundreds of lives. The couple lives in Iowa and spends five months each year at Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island.
Steve and Jean consider themselves outdoor people and visit the beach almost every day with their dog. Otherwise, they can be spotted at a local restaurant, as they are members of a frequent-diners’ club. Aside from enjoying the activities and weather on SPI, the pair is always looking to give back to the community.
“If you give, it always comes back,” Jean said. “I’ve always felt that, and I’ve always known that.”
Jean grew up in a foster home in New York and said she dealt with verbal abuse from her foster parents. But despite her unhappy childhood, she said she is grateful for the lessons it taught her.
“It’s really tough, but you overcome it. I don’t regret any of it because it made me who I am today, and it makes me want to do more because I’ve been there,” she said.
Recently, Jean and Steve donated $4,000 worth of stuffed animals to Sunny Glen Children’s home in San Benito. Jean said, because of her background, it meant a lot to her that they were able to bring some joy into these children’s lives.
“Basically, foster kids never really get the opportunity to have what other kids do,” she said. “So we felt like if we could help them and let them know somebody cares, even a little bit, it would make them feel better about themselves.
“I still see this one little girl. She was so tiny and she asked, ‘Can I have a hug?’ and I was like, ‘You can have 100 hugs.”
And while they like to gift the less fortunate year round--whether it’s buying a child a toy his or her parents said they couldn’t afford or purchasing dozens of bicycles to donate--they like to do something extra special around the holidays.
“Every year, we try to pick a different charity to give to,” said Steve, adding they were recently invited by the Cameron=County sheriff to witness the county’s annual toy distribution. “Usually, you buy the stuff, take it someplace, and you never see the smiles or the reactions of the people. That (accompanying the Sheriff’s Department) made a big difference.”
Due to the volume of gifts, two police cars, as well as a van, were needed to help carry and distribute the presents to the children.
Steve said the excitement and appreciation the children display is plenty of a reward for what they do, but their generosity in donating toys, clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags captured the attention of a number of local media outlets.
“One of the officers said it was the first time in 24 years anybody has been able to go with them on the toy drive,” he said. “And we got to go with them, which was just awesome.”
Although their family in Iowa could not watch them on television, they stay updated through social media, including Facebook and Snapchat. Steve and Jean regularly record videos of their whereabouts to share back home.
Once, they took 30 Angel-Tree cards from the Salvation Army--15 boys and 15 girls--and bought the children everything on their wish lists.
While they have not decided on a charity for this year’s Christmas season, they said they are certain something will appear.
“We haven’t really talked about or tried to plan for next year, but if we’re able to come back again, I’m sure there will be something to find us,” Steve said, with Jean agreeing.
“I always say, God places you at the right place at the right time for the right thing,” she said.
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