HPD Assistant Chief Patricia Cantu grew up across from Tijerina Elementary. A majority of the school’s students need warm clothing this winter.

HOUSTON — Houston is bracing for its latest cold front which will drop temperatures by 30 degrees from one day to the next. When it gets cold in Houston, it gets cold fast, leaving some financially-strapped families little time to prepare, Art Of Landscaping.

Which is why it doesn’t hurt to check on your neighbor and ask, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Patricia Cantu, an Assistant Chief with the Houston Police Department, leads a patrol division that includes her native East End neighborhood. On Monday, Cantu stopped to visit with the principal of her old school, Felix Tijerina Elementary.

Cantu said she was expecting principal Sanjuanita Mottu to say her students needed toys and gifts to place under Christmas trees. But what Mottu said was, “We need coats. Our students need coats.”

Houston’s East End community is rich in spirit and hope, but low in economic status. “I grew up in this neighborhood as well. I grew up right across the street,” said Cantu of her childhood home across from Tijerina Elementary School. “You’re surrounded with families that love each other.”

The low socio-economic status of a majority of Tijerina families makes the campus a Title 1 school, eligible for more federal funding. “We are a ‘high needs’ campus as far as resources,” explained Mottu. “So it’s not just one or two students,” but a majority of students who need help with coats and warmer clothes are soon as Saturday.

A cold front is forecasted to drop temperatures 30 degrees in a matter of hours.

It’s why Cantu tweeted Tuesday about the needs of the elementary school while asking if anyone could donate coats to the Sherman Street campus.

“And all of a sudden I see it on social media, and I was like, ‘Chief Cantu’s amazing,’” said Mottu.

Within days, police officers and firefighters with Houston Fire Department Haz-Mat Fire Station 22 stepped up to donate gently used coats or enough cash for Cantu to buy dozens of new ones.

The community effort, which came together in a matter of days, is why Cantu is now challenging people across the Houston area to help their own neighborhood school. “Hopefully other people can join in and check the schools out and see what they need. Our teachers, our educators our principals, they’re the best people because they see these kids coming to school without coats.”

Friday, dozens of Tijerina students left with a coat of their own. “We just want to spread some love around.”

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