ARLINGTON, Va. — Mariflor Ventura knows firsthand what it's like to struggle. The single mother said she has been through a lot over the last few years. Ventura said even with a steady job, she is still living paycheck to paycheck.
So when the pandemic hit, and many of her neighbors lost their jobs, sitting back was not an option for her. What started with one neighbor's need for baby formula, quickly turned into helping hundreds of immigrant families in the Buckingham neighborhood in Arlington.
"Especially during the pandemic, it was tough when everybody lost their jobs and they don't have papers. I know that some people hate that. Some people hate the immigrants," Ventura said through tears.
She turned to an Arlington community Facebook page asking for small donations. The people on that page answered that call.
Ventura's home is now a sanctuary for the cycle of food and clothing donations constantly coming in. She also runs a text message chain with more than 100 families, handing out donations to them on the weekends, even during her breaks at work.
For the many immigrant families in her community, Ventura is their saving grace.
"It's just natural for me, it comes from my heart to help others," said Ventura.
Others have noticed her kindness. She recently received an invitation to spend the Fourth of July at the White House with President Joe Biden and the First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.
"I felt like I was in heaven. You walk to the White house like wow, it's like a palace," she said.
The visit is an honor she said inspires her to get out and help her community even more.
Ventura also created her own Facebook group that includes an Amazon wishlist for anyone interested in donating.
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