For four decades, Houson’s own Tex-Mex Santa, Pancho Claus, has been rolling up in his low rider and spreading joy to Houston children in need. But this year, it’s the big man himself who needs a bit of Christmas cheer.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the local Papai Noel finds himself without financial sponsors, Richard Reyes, the man underneath Pancho Claus’s signature red zoot suit and fedora, recently told the Houston Chronicle. And this year, more toys are needed than previous years because so many families have lost their income as a result of the ongoing pandemic. In fact, he needs triple the the usual amount, according to ABC13.

“We lost our sponsors, but we don’t blame them because the (coronavirus) pandemic is affecting everybody,” Reyes said, according to the Chron. “I’ve always said that we have our community, and this year, our community will be our sponsor.”

A Go Fund Me page has been set up and efforts to create and operate Reyes’s Pancho Claus program as an independent nonprofit have also been initiated, according to reports. The page originally had a goal of $20,000, but that marker was quickly met in November. Now, Reyes is hoping to hit $75,000 (he has more than $57,000 raised so far).

In addition to accepting donations, Reyes is also hosting a toy drive December 13 in Pasadena. A second drive is also listed for December 20. Toys can also be dropped off at 17 specific locations around the city.

Reyes hands out more than 10,000 toys annually to disadvantaged children in Houston while also throwing seasonal parties and celebrations for low-income families. There are no shows or events scheduled for the 2020 holiday season due to the pandemic. Instead, he will be handing out gifts drive-thru-style. 

Pancho Claus’s Holiday Toy Drive. Dec 13. 5626 Red Bluff Rd, Pasadena. More info at panchoclaus.com.

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