South Texas College of Law Houston’s Legal Clinics Host Holiday Party for Clients and their Families
Nearly 40 clients of South Texas College of Law Houston’s Legal Clinics attended a special holiday party with their families at the law school this week.
The festive gathering provided fun and games for the children and teenagers, and clothes, food, blankets, and school supplies for the clients receiving pro bono legal assistance in South Texas’ Immigration and Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinics.
Many of these clients come to the law school for assistance in seeking asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief. While most are from Central America, others have come from different regions, such as Africa.
“Many of our clients have suffered profound levels of trauma and violence in their home countries, on their journeys here, and some even after their arrival in the United States,” said Karen Baker, research fellow and staff attorney in the school’s Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics. “The families we serve inspire us with their strength and resilience, and we wanted to honor them. Our students, faculty, and staff aimed to brighten their holidays by inviting them to celebrate with us and by offering the families gifts they otherwise might not receive at this time of year.”
Dozens of children aged 1 to 18 gathered in the law school’s atrium to paint ornaments, create stained-glass window crafts, play Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Snowman, and toss Frisbees decorated as cookies into a cardboard Santa’s mouth. Each family took home a large gift bag filled with wrapped toys, soccer balls, dolls, and games donated by students, faculty, staff, and other community members.
The clients’ children also enjoyed visits with Santa, role-played by a costumed Carlos Calderon, clinical teaching fellow at STCL Houston.
“It was an incredible experience getting to play a part in providing holiday cheer to our clients, especially the little ones,” said Calderon. “Most people can’t begin to comprehend the hardships they’ve faced to get here, and I jumped at the opportunity to contribute to our clinics’ efforts to ensure everyone had a reason to smile during this season of giving.”
The school’s Hispanic Law Students Association (HLSA) also played a key role in the event by raising funds to sponsor 10 families and donating clothes and toys for the families.
“Contributing to this holiday party for our clinic clients was an important priority for our student organization this year,” said Cynthia Milian, HLSA student president. “As many of the clients are Hispanic and in need of clothing and presents to make the holidays especially meaningful, we were happy to join forces with the Immigration and Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinics to make this Christmas one the children won’t soon forget.”
Kristin Zipple-Shedd, adjunct professor and staff attorney in the Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic, read books to the children and led them in several rounds of Duck-Duck-Goose. The event was a success due to the combined efforts of the entire Clinic staff, assorted faculty members, and friends of the school.
Law students in STCL Houston’s Immigration Clinic represent clients in a wide array of immigration matters, such as petitions for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, as well as applications for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence and citizenship. In the school’s Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic, South Texas students represent individuals seeking safety and protection in the form of asylum and visas for victims of trafficking.
Houstonians needing assistance with immigration issues, those seeking asylum, and others affected by human trafficking can contact the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics at STCL Houston at 713.646.2990 or complete a brief online contact form to inquire about becoming pro bono clients of the clinics.