“A Magical Time”: Christmas at San José Clinic

By Celine Pineda

Just five years after the San José Clinic was established in 1922, the National Council of Catholic Women (now the Charity Guild of Catholic Women) began hosting a Christmas celebration for patients and community members, many of whom went without during the
holidays. Approximately 300 children attended the first gathering, with infants receiving clothing and toiletries and other children visiting Santa Claus, who gave them toys and bags filled with candy, fruit, and nuts. By 1933, as many as a thousand children, all registered at the clinic, waited with their parents to receive their treasures and celebrate the occasion with friends.i

Over the past 100 years, the San José Clinic and Charity Guild of Catholic Women have witnessed how low-income communities struggle in Houston. The annual Christmas party leaves a lasting impact on young and old alike, demonstrating the clinic’s dedication to the people it serves.

Since 1927, those affiliated with San José have gathered in the weeks before the party, collecting and wrapping gifts, chatting over hot chocolate, and sharing prayers of thanks. They spent hours decorating, preparing treats, creating crafts and games, and obtaining food gift cards for the parents to spread Christmas cheer and assure their patient families that the larger community supported them. Even during COVID-19, volunteers and staff arranged a drive-thru celebration where they handed out gift cards for food and toys, and children received a bakery box with sugar cookies and all the trimmings to decorate them to their heart’s content.i

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Despite the pandemic, Ann & George Quirk remained committed to their tradition of spreading holiday cheer. In 2020, Mr. & Mrs. Claus adorned masks and donated HEB gift cards to over 100 families.

For more information about San Jose Clinic’s 2020 Christmas parade, please visit Click2Houston.

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