Christus Health Plan officials host holiday celebration (w/video)

WHAT IS CHIP?

CHIP is a state-sponsored health care program for children under age 19 of families who make too much money to receive Medicaid but cannot afford health care for their children. To learn more, contact Magaly Reyna, Victoria community outreach representative for Christus Health Plan, at 361-547-2594 or call 877-428-3057 or visit christushealthplan.org.

Deeanna Garcia's four daughters, ages 2 to 10, waved from a train car as they passed her in Victoria Mall on Saturday.

Christus Health Plan, a Catholic organization, hosted a Magical Christmas Celebration to help families celebrate the holidays and learn about Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid programs.

Hundreds of children rode the train, colored ornaments and composed letters to Santa Claus at the four-hour event. The jolly man in red even arrived in person to hear Christmas wishes and provide photo opportunities.

"Single parents work a lot," Garcia said. "So it's good they're here the one day we can get out to shop for Christmas."

Garcia, 28, is a single mother who works at Texas Drive Inn in Victoria. She manages to provide minimal insurance for her daughters but wants to find better, less expensive options.

"A large number of people in Victoria and South Texas are eligible for CHIP," said Amy West, media representative for Christus. "It is important that we reach out to them because many aren't aware that they are eligible, or they don't understand the tedious application process."

Magaly Reyna, Christus community outreach representative for Victoria, answered questions about Medicaid and CHIP eligibility and the application process at her table.

"I also give presentations at local schools, libraries and churches," Reyna said. "I can help people fill out applications."

Volunteers from Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church were also on hand to help with activities.

"It's interesting to see what they write," said Emily Omecinski, 17, who helped at the letters to Santa table. "I like to see the children's faces."