Pay It Forward Treasure Hunt Helps Midland Families

by Devin Sanchez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - It's an online treasure hunt that serves as a fundraiser for the needy in Midland. But this year, it proved to mean something more to two families who have been through so much.

It's the Pay It Forward Treasure Hunt. One week before Christmas, an envelope is hidden around town with money it.

Clues are posted on the group's Facebook page, others find the clues and join in. The winner gets to donate to the charity, or needy family, of their choice.

This Christmas, one little girl found the clue at the exact same time as someone else. She decided to share the prize.

Half of the money will go to Denise Smith. Her son died unexpectedly last week.

Eight year old Ashton Vallez said she wants to give the money to Smith, because that's her dance teacher.

"I would like to give her the money because she did everything she could to help us dance," Vallez said.

The other half will go to five year old Zachary McBride.

It's been a rough year for Zachary's family. Last July, his uncle, 28-year-old Bryan McBride, and his cousin, 18-year-old Jacob Power, were both killed in a car accident in Glasscock County.

Then Zachary was diagnosed with leukemia.

"Lee and Pam have lost their father, their sons were killed in the same car accident, they just lost their mother," family friend, Lynne Tolle, said.

Tolle knew she had to help the family.

"After what I've seen this family go through, all I could think about was going to Pam and saying there was going to be something for Bryan," she said. "Bryan helped raise this little boy."

Thanks to Vallez, she'll be able to.

Vallez's mom, Tiffani Bowden, said she wanted her kids to learn about giving back, that's why she had them involved in the treasure hunt.

"You always want to teach your kids right from wrong, and to know how to share and what Christmas really means," Bowden said.

All three of them said they plan to again next year.