Mike Slaight was a giving person from the very early years of his life. One day, when Mike was in the third grade, he came home without his jacket. When his mother, Virginia, asked him what happened, he said "there was a new kid at school today who didn't have a jacket. So I took mine off and gave it to him."
In 1987, Mike was a member of Sachse Christian Church in Sachse, Texas. He was looking for a way to get more involved in the church and charitable organizations and contacted the area minister, Reverend Bob Stewart, who told him about the Reverend Feliberto Pereira in the Rio Grande Valley. Reverend Feliberto Pereira, himself a political refugee from Cuba, was the minister of a small church in Los Fresnos, Texas, Iglesia Christiana Ebenezer. Mike called Rev. Pereira who told him the need for clothes and toys for the refugees he was helping and the need for toys for displaced children at a small orphanage just across the border in Mexico.
That winter, Mike with his wife, Samanthia, and young son, Mark, made the first trip in their van to the Valley delivering gifts that had been collected from church members, family, and friends, to Rev. Pereira for distribution to the refugees, the needy, and the orphans. Mike then asked Rev. Pereira what else was needed who answered "shoes." Without hesitation, Mike began to take off his size 13 shoes. but Rev. Pereira laughed and said they needed much smaller sizes. Over the next few years, Mike continued to coordinate trips to the Valley to deliver clothes in toys.
Mike passed away in the summer of 1990. His father, Hank Slaight, continued the project with the same intensity. Through the tireless effort of Hank, Mike's Kids (as it soon became known) grew in the number of churches participating and the amount of clothes and toys being delivered.
Banana boxes took on a new meaning when Mike and Hank started the yearly collection of toys and clothing. In September of each year, many local grocery stores are contacted and asked to save their empty banana boxes for them. The banana boxes are then distributed to the churches in the North Texas Area. People are asked to fill the boxes with new or "gently used" toys and clothing. In December of 2003, over 1,600 boxes were filled and carried to the Valley in a 53' 18-wheel semi truck and trailer. The trailer was filled from top to bottom with food or large toys in the remaining spaces.
In October 2003, Hank Slaight passed away. His grandson, Mark (Mike's son), now coordinates the Mike's Kids project along with tremendous help from his sister, Christina Gill, and longtime family friend, Marvin Carter and his wife Treena, not to mention the countless other tireless volunteers and local ministers.
For over 20 years toys and clothing have been collected and dispersed. From a loaded van to a full semi trailer, people from many denominations and churches now know about Mike's Kids and share the same concern for the "poorest of the poor."
For more information on the Reverend Feliberto Pereira and the Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries please visit www.swgsm.org.