Since 2015, McAllen entrepreneurs Maria Roser and Uriel Barbosa have made it a family tradition to share their Thanksgiving leftovers with the homeless. This year, being limited by the pandemic, the couple instead decided to host a giveaway and blessed ten RGV families in need of a Thanksgiving dinner.

The giveaway, which was posted on Happy’s Party Rentals Facebook page, received nearly 200 comments and shares, much more than the family had expected. To win, families had to like the page, comment on what they’re thankful for, and share the post.

“I didn’t know it would have such a big turnout,” said Barbosa, who is also the owner of the Happy’s Party Rentals company in McAllen.

Scrolling through Facebook posts and online stories of families struggling during the pandemic moved Roser, which inspired her idea for the giveaway. After discussing it with his wife, Barbosa decided to host the giveaway with Thanksgiving meal kits for families who have recently lost their jobs or those who are unable to make a proper meal for the holidays.

More than 200 families signed up for the giveaway, from which Roser announced the ten winners on Facebook Live Wednesday evening.

“With politics and the pandemic and everything that’s been going on… I feel a lot of people in our community have lost hope,” said Roser, who owns Prestige Cleaning Services. “We decided that blessing 10 families would at least bring hope.”

The meals kits included a variety of festive goods, such as a frozen turkey, boxes of stuffing mix, and cranberry sauce.

The couple is wishing that their charitable act shows the community that good people are still looking out for others.

Roser said she was raised learning about the importance of giving to others — whether it was through food drive donations, toy drives or donating time. The family values she learned as a child are now values she is working to instill in her own family.

“That’s what we always try and teach our children,” said Roser. “Even if you open the door for somebody, even if you say good morning, even if you let someone cut in front of you when you’re driving — that can make somebody’s day better. We need to treat each other with love, especially during these times.”

As managers of several local small businesses, the pandemic has added much uncertainty to their work. However, Barbosa said, his family will continue to be generous and help those in the community in need.

“We’re essential businesses and have been blessed still having work throughout this pandemic, so it was only right and in our hearts to give back to the community,” said Barbosa. “We’re just looking to bless the families, bring them together and for everyone to have a happy holiday from (us).”

Barbosa and Roser said they are not stopping at Thanksgiving and are already planning a Christmas toy drive.

Maria Ruiz is a student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.