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in it until something like this comes about.” She added, “I’m on the board of the Salvation Army, and I thought that if I sent the items to the Corpus Christi Salvation Army, they could be repaired and cleaned and put to good use. I didn’t send anything that I thought was usable here in its existing state.” Some believed that the Kleberg County Salvation Army could have put the clothing in good repair for its use locally. Mrs. Riebel found that the episode was not appreciated by several county officials and civic and church leaders. Still, Mrs. Riebel contended “there is an abundance of usable clothing for distribution to local needy families throughout the year.” She reported to the county commissioners court that in one week nine Kleberg County families with a total of 40 children were given 150 blouses, 125 sweaters, 337 adult dresses, 15 housecoats and robes, 100 skirts, 75 girls’ dresses, 75 shirts, 30 men’s pants, 25 coats and jackets, 100 pairs of socks, 12 pair of shoes, 20 pair of pajamas, 45 pieces of kitchenware, one davenport, two mattresses, eight blankets, and one innerspring. The day before this bonanza was lavished on nine needy families, Mrs. Riebel had been quietly asked to resign by the county commissioners. She had refused. A day or so later members of the County Welfare Association, appointed by the commissioners court, recommended no action against Mrs. Riebel, but the commissioners were unmoved. Commissioner Rex Wright’s motion that Mrs. Riebel be fired was seconded and passed unanimously. Miss Edith Cousins, president of the welfare association, stung by the commissioners’ ignoring her board’s recommendation, said “You have shown a complete disregard for the opinion of the board. What do you want of a board?” Commissioner Wright responded that “Other than yourself, the board hasn’t been interested in county welfare. I can show you members of the board who haven’t been to a meeting in a year.” Luis Fuentes, Jr., of Kingsville, a spectator at the meeting, rose to ask why there were no Latin-Americans on the board. “The largest number of welfare recipients are Latin-Americans,” Fuentes said, “yet there are no Latins on the board. The board needs a Latin-American in order to know the needs of these people,” he told the commissioners. Presiding Judge Bolar A. Brown said he thought Fuentes’ suggestion a good one and that it had never been made before. THE PUBLIC DISCUSSION that ensued from Deswysen’s stories brought out a fund of information on welfare policies in Kleberg County. Among the points raised: Clothing is collected on a twice-a-week basis for welfare families by the county government. But evidently a bottleneck in distribution existed. A warehouse, originally built as a records storage annex to the courthouse, became dominated by racks of 10 The Texas Observer clothing neatly sorted by type and size. More clothing, Deswysen found, was stored in the welfare office in the basement of the courthouse. A family was deemed ineligible for welfare aid if even one member earned an income of any amount. Mrs. Riebel says there were exceptions. “Sometimes the. rule was broken if there was a large family and the wage earner was unable to provide sufficient clothing. But if we gave clothing to everyone who requested it, A stillborn child . the father dug the grave himself. whether they have an income or not, we would be giving clothing to people without any actual need, and the needy would be more sadly neglected than they may seem now.” A minister who helped sponsor the A&I clothing drive says, “I know of several families with a wage-earner making something like 50 cents an hour who could have used what we collected.” He adds that the policy of denying aid to families without any income seems to keep help from those in need who are genuinely trying to help themselves by working at any available job. “The people they discriminate against are those who are trying to help themselves,” he said. A year ago burial costs of a stillborn baby were saved by a needy family by having the father dig the grave himself at the local cemetery. Only in the last few years has the county government had any part in welfare. The County Welfare Association was organized 15 years ago as a private organization and hired Mrs. Riebel as its social worker while it was still non-governmen. tal. A few years ago the county commissioners court absorbed the group, including Mrs. Riebel, into the government. An office of the State Department of Public Welfare distributes financial aid to disabled workers and dependent children. The budget provided by the county commissioners for welfare is $15,392 for this year, compared to $79,900 budgeted in neighboring Jim Wells County, which has a similar population. Kleberg County doesn’t subscribe to the federal food program in which surplus commodities are distributed to needy families. Only last November did the county commissioners begin looking into the program. Judge Brown, head of the county government, says, “I have always said that our finances are good enough that we don’t need to ask for outside help. If there are any people who are hungry and eligible for assistance, we are glad to give it to them . . . It looks to me right now that we will institute the {federal commodities] pro gram. However, I can’t say for sure.” But Dr. Wayne Johnson, a consultant in the recently organized Kleberg County community action committee, can’t understand why the county court doesn’t participate in the surplus commodities program. He notes that only $824.22 was spent on food for welfare recipients in 1965. Even that amount was an unnecessary burden on local taxpayers, Johnson contends, when the food could have been received free from the U.S. Brown counters, “What is the difference between the county furnishing the food itself and getting it shipped in from the outside? The federal tax money that pays for those commodities comes from somewhere.” Food allotments provided $5 of groceries for each family, regardless of its size. But in January the policy was altered; allotments now are based on the number of persons in a family. THE PROBLEMS of Kleberg County’s poor are causing widening concern. After Mrs. Riebel was fired and before a successor was hired, on Jan. 31, a group of 70 impoverished farm workers from the county’s rural areas converged on the courthouse. The workers were not employed at that time of the year and came seeking food to get them by until their work season resumes. They and their families were interviewed by Elvira Cavazos, the only employee at the welfare office after the firing. Secretaries from other courthouse offices helped out interviewing the applicants, some of whom carried babies in their arms. County Judge Brown complained that political opponents were making an issue of the march on the courthouse. “We don’t want a hullabaloo out of this,” he said. “There’s no sense in making a political football out of it.” An official of the county anti-poverty organization, Valdemar Perez, said he urged the families to come to the courthouse in a group to make their presence felt. “These people have come here so many times and were rejected that they came to me for help,” Perez, a grocer, said. “I found every one of them was in bad shape.” Perez said his action had nothing to do with the war on poverty program. “These people don’t need a year-round rehabilitation program at this point,” he said. “This is an emergency situation caused by loss of jobs in bad weather.” He added that many of the families had been without income for six weeks. “Many had been refused help simply because there was one person in the family who had any amount of income.” Another man who became concerned as a result of Deswysen’s stories was M. P. Maldonado, a former Corpus Christi city councilman who operates a food manufacturing concern in that city. The day after the farm workers’ march on the courthouse, Maldonado shipped a truckload of tortillas, tamales, and sausages to. Kingsville. He said he had read another Deswy