Local first responders have joined together to help support the families of two McAllen police officers who were killed in the line of duty in July while responding to a domestic disturbance call.
The McAllen Guns and Hoses Foundation, a nonprofit organization comprised of McAllen police officers and firefighters, raised more than $90,000 for the families of Ismael “Smiley” Chavez, 39, and Edelmiro Garza, 45.
The organization presented the families with the donations during a small ceremony Saturday.
Rio Grande Valley first responders take care of their own, and never is that more true than when they lose one of their own. That’s what prompted the organization to raise funds for the families of the two slain officers, said MGHF board member and former McAllen police officer David Alvarado.
“We reached out to everybody in the community as much as we could and let them know and see if they would want to help us out,” Alvarado said.
“We reached out to everybody in the community as much as we could and let them know and see if they would want to help us out,” he said, adding that the social distancing constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic made the fundraising efforts take a little longer.
But it wasn’t just a sense of brotherhood that drove Alvarado and the foundation to try to help the families of officers Chavez and Garza. For Alvarado, it was more personal.
He knew the two men, and was close friends with Chavez, who served on the board of the foundation prior to his death.
“We lost two brothers, and I lost a good friend,” Alvarado said, calling both men “exceptional police officers.”
Alvarado said he saw “something” in Chavez when he first made the transition from education, where he previously served as a high school teacher, to law enforcement — a giving nature that Alvarado thought would fit in well with the charitable mission of the MGHF.
Alvarado explained to Chavez how the organization helps first responders in need. But he never thought that help would soon be directed at his friend.
“I wasn’t thinking … I was going to be doing this to help him or his family, you know what I mean?” Alvarado said.
Now, however, the foundation will continue its mission to help other first responders — with officers Chavez and Garza at the forefront of their minds.
“We will continue to keep on assisting, and helping, and getting involved in our communities in the memory of these two officers,” Alvarado said.
For more information on the foundation, or to make a donation, visit McAllenGunsAndHoses.com or call (956) 641-1595.