IMMOKALEE–For the Gallegos family, Christmas time is all about planting seeds of love. What started in 2005 as an intimate family tradition has now grown into a bustling event that meets the growing need of supplying Christmas gifts to children living in migrant villages throughout the Immokalee community.
In 2005, after watching her nine children and countless grandchildren rip through gifts, long-time Immokalee resident Delma Gallegos shared with her family a desire to shift their focus during the Christmas season. Having relied on the kindness of others to provide family gifts years before, the grandmother shared her wish to provide hundreds of gifts to children less fortunate as her own family.
Wendy Gallegos recalled the December afternoon when her mother-in-law Delma shared a plan on how their family could serve community children.
With a median household income of $30,800 and home to some of the largest migrant farmworker camps, the town relies heavily on non-profit organizations and local churches to make it through the holidays.
“She shared with us that while she could not leave her grandchildren a financial inheritance, she wanted to help us instill in our children a godly inheritance and teach them how to give and serve others,” the younger Gallegos said.
With a desire to bring this God-sized vision to fruition, the family began collecting gifts throughout the year for various age groups. Since launching the tradition in 2006, they have not missed one year of distributing gifts on Christmas evening – though they have come close.
In 2013, Delma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Realizing her time on this earth was limited, she encouraged family members to continue ministering to the needs in their community long after she was gone. That Christmas, though Delma was unresponsive under hospice care, the family livestreamed their Christmas stops for her to hear.
“She had been praying that God would allow her to stay on earth just beyond Christmas as she knew that if she passed away prior to Christmas, her family might not be able to bless the children,” Gallegos said. “She had me promise that regardless of the circumstances, we would continue blessing migrant children in Immokalee with Christmas gifts.”
Now a tradition for more than 15 years, the Gallegos family has continued what is now called “Delma’s Seeds of Love” as they plant seeds of compassion throughout the community and share their matriarch’s love for Jesus and serving others.
“Our purpose is to bless and share the love of God with migrant children and continue to instill in our children, and now grandchildren, how to give and serve,” said Gallegos. “We desire to remind our children how much their grandmother loved God and how she spent most of her life serving others.”
To keep Jesus at the center of Christmas each year, Delma’s son shares Luke 2 at one of the largest migrant camps. While Christmas music is played, more than 150 children gather at each of the five locations in great eagerness for the annual tradition that delivers joy throughout southwest Florida.
As word of the ministry has grown over the years local churches, family friends and hometown residents have pitched in to gather and distribute as many gifts as possible. What started out as 60 gifts in 2006 has quickly grown into a need for a trailer and multiple trucks to transport more than 500 gifts throughout five migrant camps.
In 2017, the Gallegos’ home church–Fellowship Church–began partnering with the family in purchasing, collecting and wrapping gifts in time for a Christmas delivery. The church quickly launched their annual “Wrap and Snack” event, complete with gift wrapping stations, Christmas carols and sweet treats.
“We believe God will use this partnership for His glory, as while we have our individual church homes; we are coming together as one body to share God’s love throughout our community,” said Gallegos. “We hope that other local churches will continue to join us in this ministry.
“God calls us to serve and give as He did,” she said. “Our desire is to display God’s love.”
If you would like more information on how to serve alongside Delma’s Seeds of Love, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published on flbaptist.org.