SEBRING, Fla. – A family destroyed by COVID-19 is being held together by a stream of support from their community.
It all coincided with a youth pet auction and the amazing price paid for two pigs.
It was playing at the Highlands County Fair when 16-year-old Maria, 10-year-old Isaac and their pigs were introduced to the crowd. A local business donated the pigs to Maria and Isaac after their parents died of COVID-19 last summer.
“They did really well with it,” says their sister, 21-year-old Emily. “They took care of the pigs. They enjoyed the work. They learned that from our parents.”
The value of hard work and helping people is what the parents, Javier Alvarez and his wife Renee, taught their children. Javier was a handyman. Renee worked in the maternity ward at a Sebring hospital. Both died of COVID last summer.
When she was only 21 years old, Emily did not know which way to turn.
“I did not know how to start doing much of anything,” she says.
But the two pigs and their Highlands County community got through.
“We live in a small county, so I feel like we’re very connected, and the farming community is very closely linked here,” says Laura Barben, who is among dozens of local residents helping the family.
At the youth livestock auction at the Highlands County Fair, bids flew for these pigs.
“Let’s start with $ 10 thousand dollars,” the auctioneer said. “I have 15, 20, 25 thousand dollars,” he said.
Emily looked at in amazement, “I thought, ‘OK, that’s a lot of money for two pigs,’ but then it started going up and up and up.”
In the end, it was amazing. “We come together as a community with $ 80,000 dollars is what we have tonight,” auctioneer Bryan Trimble announced.
The money was collected through 98 separate donations from members of the community.
It gives new hope to a family facing many challenges. 21-year-old Emily is now the guardian of her three younger siblings. “I want to say thank you very much for that. It will help a lot. It’s going to change so much,” she says.
Thanks to the lessons of hard work and the generosity of the neighbors, these two pigs paid off for the future of a family.