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Generous group surprises local couple caring for as many as 7 grandkids with new home

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 4:12 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Shelia and Darrell Cullens, who’ve been caring for as many as seven of their grandchildren at a time will have some room to spread out thanks to a Christmas surprise in July from the Waco GoodFellas.

The Cullens and four of their grandchildren have been packed into a small trailer home in Bellmead without air conditioning or a dishwasher.

But the GoodFellas, who devote a lot of effort to making Christmas brighter for underprivileged children, surprised the couple with a two-bedroom, one-bath manufactured home during the group’s annual Christmas in July fundraiser Saturday night.

Jessup Housing in Waco the home to the group to give to a family in need.

“It was very surprising,” Shelia said, still choking up Monday as she talked about about the gift.

“We didn’t even have a clue that it was going to happen.”

Shelia and Darrell were called to the stage Saturday night at The BASE at the Extraco Event Center during the group’s annual fundraiser.

They thought they were simply guests at the party because the group has helped them over Christmas.

But they hugged and wept as they learned the new home was theirs.

Two of their four grandchildren, Alyssa Meek, 12, and Antonio Cruz, 11, were there and were able to tour the new home.

Two other grandchildren Olivia Davis, 13, and Isabella Morales, 5, will soon be able to enjoy it, too.

“I would like to thank the GoodFellas for helping us get a house, " Alyssa said.

“I would like to thank you for giving us a roof over our head.”

“I would like to thank you for getting us this house because y’all gave us a big roof over our head. Thank you Goodfellas,” Antonio added.

Darrell was back at work Monday in Austin but added his thanks, too.

“I didn’t understand what was going on and I was confused,” Darrell said.

“It is a blessing. It is a big blessing.”

Waco GoodFellas President Randy Crook is one of the group’s founders and since 1994 has helped dole out presents for about 10,000 people.

But, he said, this gift may take the cake.

“It was unbelievable. Everybody was bawling,” Crook said.

“The family was so excited. It was great. It may have been the greatest thing we’ve ever done ever.”

Crook said those in the crowd Saturday were so touched by the gift they wanted to do more.

GoodFella Wayne Redding, owner of Specialty Restoration, donated $10,000 on the spot to help with furnishings and the crowd matched his donation.

“It was incredible,” Crook said.

The family says the gift couldn’t have come at a better time.

Three of their grandkids already had to move out because of the spartan conditions.

“We don’t have the luxuries of everybody else. In the living room, we don’t have AC we have fans. When it gets real hot, we all pile up in the bedroom where the one AC is,” Shelia said.

Shelia said the GoodFellas not only gave the gift of comfort, but also the gift of family.

“We don’t have a lot,” Shelia said.

“We’re barely making it but at least the family is safe, and we are together. "

“Thank you, GoodFellas. Prayers really do work.”

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