HOUSTON — Pancho Claus has been a familiar face in Houston's East End for decades, delivering toys to kids in need at Christmas.
This year, with things being tight, Pancho needs a little extra help to make his deliveries and he got it.
While the economy is recovering from COVID shutdowns, things are still tough for many. Pancho, whose real name is Richard Reyes, says, “Folks are just getting their jobs back, behind on the mortgage or cars. Toys are on the back burner.”
The city of Houston rallied local businesses like D.R.C. and individuals for donations. At Wednesday’s city council meeting, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said, “We want to present this check in the amount of $10,000 to your cause.”
It’s also special because this is a big year for Reyes who said, “Pancho Claus is 40 this year and I'm 70.”
City Council Member Robert Gallegos said, “I always look forward to see that caravan driving in the east end, you honking your horn, waving and kids running outside.”
Reyes said, “Pancho Claus is a spirit, a movement. It’s all these people I mentioned, all the people in our community: police officers, low riders, mom and pop shops that put hundreds of toy collection boxes out.”
Pancho poked a little good-natured fun at the white haired and bearded Councilman Michael Kubosh, saying, “You look like my competitor, Santa Claus!”
This year, Reyes has drafted 3 understudies to lend a Christmas assist. Reyes explained, “We’re gonna have several Pancho Clauses in the community, giving 3 times the gifts so we can reach as many kids as we can.”