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      Brownsville Raza - A Helping Hand

      Melissa Castro started her day Tuesday visiting the site of a burned home in Brownsville, taking pictures of the damage, and making calls to several businesses rallying them to come together to help a family that lost just about everything.

      Castro is the founder of Brownsville Raza, a group that started on Facebook with one goal in mind.

      "Helping spread the love and get the community together to help," Castro said. "People contact us of a need that they have, we go and check out and make sure that everything is legit, make sure that there is a need indeed, we take pictures post them on our wall, and we're just instruments - it's the community that comes together and makes dreams come true."

      The group has over 5,000 followers on Facebook and has had to start a second page to allow more followers to join.

      Castro said as far as the name goes, it just made sense.

      'Brownsville because we are from Brownsville and Raza because we're raza, Castro said. I'm from Southmost - I grew-up on Tulipan, I grew-up poor and we're all raza. That's what we are - Hispanics - and it's not about race we're raza and we're here to help each other out."

      Brownsville helped the family that lost their home in a fire with food, lodging, and even a new pair of eye-glasses for one of the children.

      They've also recently helped families with funeral expenses in the loss of their children, participated in the Heroes' Relief Bike Ride and help make wishes come true for children diagnosed with deadly illnesses.

      "People go through tragedies all the time, and it's good for them to know that they are not alone," Castro said.

      Despite the many good deeds, Castro said there has been some recent criticism with some people pushing her organization to acquire non-profit status.

      "We will not file because we do not handle money, Castro said. It goes directly to the family. We never ask the family, ~How much did you receive? What did you do with the money? How are you going to spend it? TM We don TMt have time for that, and that is not our purpose. Our purpose is to show them that they aren't alone in this journey."

      Castro said many times people ask her how she has the energy to lead such a big mission.

      "It's called love, she said. I myself have been through many tragedies|and that's why I can understand a person that's suffering - because I've been there."