UTPA group gives back for the holidays
By Katelyn Flores
All it takes is one small, smiling face, and members of Soñar Despierto have made it their mission to make as many terminally ill children smile this Christmas.
Soñar Despierto is a non-profit organization that aims to help the youth develop an attitude of sensitivity and responsibility towards problems in society and encourage them to develop the community. Members do cultural, educational and recreational projects for children in need.
Although the organization has made its way to the University, it did not start there. Soñar Despierto began in Monterrey, Mexico 24 years ago.
“We’ve been in the Valley for two years” said 23-year-old communications major senior Marcela Gonzalez. “We are all over America, Mexico and some South American countries like Colombia, Argentina and Chile.”
Within two years, Soñar Despierto has quickly gained popularity with the student body. From one semester to the next, Soñar Despierto has collected more than 10 times the amount of the members they had before.
The organization consists of 160 members from UTPA, with 20-year-old mechanical engineering junior Curt Muller as president and and 22-year-old mechanical engineering junior Tocho Leal as vice president. Due to the organization’s size, smaller groups within the orgaization, led by four officials, have been made to be in charge of different aspects of the organization, such as Public Relations and the Hospital group. The current number of members represents a huge increase compared to the 15 members in the spring of 2012.
“We are growing so fast that we are on TV a lot, especially Televisa,” 23-year-old Gonzalez said. They use the television time to talk about the organization as well as providing the public with information about upcoming projects.
This year, members have decided to go above and beyond what they usually do for their biggest event of the year, taking on more than double the work from last year.
“The event is Macroposada, and it’s actually for low-income kids that usually do not receive anything for Christmas,” Gonzalez said. “We do rallies and give them food, and then at the end we give them a toy.”
Macroposada 2012 will take place Dec. 8 in the City Hall at 400 West Veterans Blvd. in Palmview. It will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Macroposada, which translates to “a big party for children,” is projected to have 500 kids attend this year compared to last year’s 200. According to Gonzalez, usually about 100 attendees are accounted for at other events, like Masquerade and Hawaiian parties happening throughout the year. Soñar Despierto members push themselves to work hard year-round to make Macroposada a success.
“We get a lot of sponsors to try and get toys and money because we need a lot,” Gonzalez, said. “There are 500 kids. We have to feed them and give them all toys.”
Another project the group works on is Soñar Despierto are Cuéntame tu Sueños, which translates to “Tell me your dreams,” and it is somewhat similar to events established by Make- a -Wish Foundation.
“It’s something where we pick the kids that are in terminal phases and then we try to make their dream come true,” Gonzalez said. “There is a kid named Jordy that the doctors said that he had three months left to live, and he wants to go to Orlando, and go to Disney… We are trying to get him there.”
All volunteers are encouraged to attend. For more information, contact Marcela Gonzalez at 566-7048.
“We do this event because we want to,” she said. “The only thing that we want is the smile on the faces of the kids. We just want the kids to be happy and that’s all.”