Non-profit organization brings unique Christmas spirit to RGV

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HARLINGEN, TX (ValleyCentral) – Big Red’s Ranch in San Benito strives to bring Rio Grande Valley families to an unforgettable Christmas experience through their Christmas Events at The Ranch and Lights of Hope.

The nonprofit’s mission is to strengthen families and fight for orphans, according to CEO Jonathan Barnard.

“We want families to go out and enjoy and create memories and have a great time as a family and we see this as an opportunity to see them grow stronger as a family,” Barnard said.

He said that donors, sponsors and community support allow them to give back to the community.

“One of those things we do is provide free tickets to single parents,” he said.

Barnard explained that the organization operates year round, offering different events, activities and summer camps.

Celeste Barnard said Christmas events at the ranch are for the whole family.

“Christmas at the Ranch is like the most magical experience,” she said.

Barnard explained that the event features lighted canoe rides, ranch-wide hay rides, farm animals, food trucks and even snow.

She said that for those who prefer to stand, there is an option for them to drive through their Lights of Hope experience.

“They can drive, they can watch a show, we have kettle corn, we have hot chocolate, and then when the show is over, they can walk around a 60 acre ranch and see that everything is lit up, it’s beautiful, it’s a really fun experience, ”she said.

The 60-acre ranch is packed with lightweight structures, activities and rides, all of which take a lot of work, according to Faith Barnard, chief operating officer.

“Each night of these events, it takes about 100 volunteers to come together,” she said.

She explained that preparations start as early as August and that events draw up to 1,300 people each evening.

“Not only does it take a hundred volunteers per night, but we also have monthly donors who support us not only financially, but also just in prayer and support us emotionally and spiritually,” she said.

Big Red’s Ranch started out as a dream for board member Jimmy Barnard forty years ago after realizing that not everyone got the chance to attend camps.

“I’ve always said if we didn’t share it we wouldn’t have it, so that’s the point of this ranch, is to share it,” said Jimmy Barnard.

He said it was a blessing to see families having fun and plans to keep improving.

“We strive every year to do better and better, more lights, more activities, more time here, so that they can just enjoy it.”

For more information on Big Red’s Ranch and their vacation events, you can visit their website.

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