On their way to Arlington for a fun-filled day at Six Flags, children from Casa de Esperanza, a home for abused and neglected children in Acu’a, Mexico, detoured through Brady on Saturday, July 21 and were treated to free Happy Meals courtesy of the local McDonalds. Casa de Esperanza or ‘House of Hope,’ began in 1991 when the incumbent mayor of Acu’a granted the Grace Community Church of Arlington approximately 12 acres of land on which to build a home for abused and neglected children. It is governed by a Mexican board of directors as well as an American board of directors; however, all funding comes from the Grace Community Church and private donations. It is a non-profit organization operating under an “A.C.” (the Mexican equivalent to the United State’s 501C3) and an American 501C3 as Esperanza Missions Inc. Presently there are 33 children ranging from three months of age to 16 years old living at Casa de Esperanza. None of the children are available for adoption because they have living relatives who are either unable, unfit or unwilling to care for them. Many of them have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse. Some have been surrendered to the orphanage simply because no one in their family can support them. Placement in Casa de Esperanza is handled by DIF, which is the Mexican equivalent to the United States’ child welfare system. Each child is “sponsored” by two or three American families, which provide Christmas and birthday gifts for them plus occasionally provide for special needs like school shoes. The Mexican government allowed caretakers at the facility to treat the children to a brief visit to Arlington for some summer fun. The trip was the first opportunity for Case de Esperanza to take a field trip and the first time any of the children have ever crossed the border into the United States. In addition to the Happy Meals donated by McDonalds, the children received free T-shirts from the Brady/McCulloch County Chamber of Commerce and free cotton candy from Wal-Mart.