With the holiday season quickly approaching, the Hays County Food Bank has begun gathering supplies to ensure families in the area have the opportunity to experience a happy holiday.
On Nov. 13, the food bank began one of several food box distributions as a part of its Turkeys Tackling Hunger campaign for needy families in Hays County.
Mallory Raschke, Hays County Food Bank communications coordinator, said residents could come out and pick up a holiday food box, which consists of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Raschke said it is the food bank’s goal to ensure those who may not be able to afford a meal are still able to enjoy the season.
“With the holiday meal boxes, we just want to basically give people the opportunity to prepare a meal at home,” Raschke said. “People are in multiple different situations, and it’s supposed to be a time of family and giving.”
Raschke said this is the ninth year the Hays County Food Bank has used the Turkeys Tackling Hunger campaign to provide for the community.
Raschke said nearly 3,400 families were able to receive a holiday box last year, a number the food bank plans to increase before this year’s Thanksgiving holiday.
“It has been very successful,” Raschke said.
Hays County volunteer, Antonia Octavio, said she always volunteers with the organization when able and knows what it is like to be in need.
“I think everybody has experienced a time of need,” Octavio said. “I’ve been in some of these people’s shoes before and it’s very difficult.”
Octavio said it can be hard when individuals aren’t able to give everything they want to their families.
“You’re supposed to provide a big meal,” Octavio said. “And sometimes a lot of people can barely afford to eat once a day. A lot of people don’t really understand what that feels like until they actually experience it.”
David Santiago, Kyle resident, said he is happy the food bank is committed to providing for the community during the holiday season.
“You know, I never thought I would have to be here,” Santiago said. “But life hits in ways you never knew it could, which is why I believe we’re blessed to have the community give like this.”
Raschke said the food bank takes donations year round, but the organization sees an increase of volunteers and donations during the holiday season.
“People feel a little bit more generous in the holiday season,” Raschke said. “They get more into the giving spirit, and it helps us receive more and gain more volunteers.”
Hays County volunteer Sandra Jenkins gives during the holidays because she wants it be a time of happiness for everyone.
“The holidays can scare a lot of people who are in financial need,” Jenkins said. “And it shouldn’t be like that. The holidays should just be an opportunity to be with family and friends and not having to worry too much about money.”
Jenkins said she is glad to be a part of a community that is willing to help its fellow neighbors.
“It’s really amazing,” Jenkins said. “We don’t have to be here, but we’re doing it out of the kindness of our hearts. It just feels very rewarding to be a part of this and know you’re doing something good for other people.”