Latter-day Saints in communities across Texas are serving their neighbors after a massive winter storm with record snow, ice and cold hit the state last week, leaving millions of people without food, water, and power. The record cold temperatures also led to broken water pipes and flooded homes and businesses.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sent 36 semi truckloads of food, water, mattresses, and other supplies from the Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City to communities throughout primarily Texas and including Oklahoma. In all, 790,400 pounds of food and 17,280 cases of water were shipped to those in need.
In recent days, temperatures have warmed well above freezing, but local government leaders say it will take some time for residents to recover from the frigid Arctic air.
One week after the power was restored to most areas, many communities still don’t have access to potable water and remain under boil orders from their local governments. Grocery stores have begun restocking shelves with perishable items.
In San Angelo and Abilene, Texas, more than 41,000 pounds of food arrived on Tuesday, February 23. The Food Bank of West Central Texas in Abilene was the first recipient. Half of the food shipment was unloaded and processed by Latter-day Saint volunteers and missionaries.
The semi-truck then delivered the second half of the food to the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank in San Angelo, where local Church volunteers and nonprofit community leaders stocked the shelves to alleviate hunger caused by last week’s severe winter storms.
“In the thirteen-county service area, approximately 400,000 people were served by the food bank last year,” said Lee Pipkin, executive director of the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank. This food donation will provide over 15,000 meals to local recipients.
On February 21, Latter-day Saints were busy unloading 20 pallets of bottled water in Church parking lots to help the Abilene and San Angelo communities. Working with the United Way of the Concho Valley in San Angelo, the Church provide water for many citizens who called in for help.
In Abilene, Latter-day Saint volunteers delivered water to citizens in need, including those in the Lyndale Abilene Memory Care center, who were without water because of a broken water main. Water was also donated to the local Big Country Chapter of the American Red Cross.
“[We are] very pleased that these food banks and the Church had an opportunity to work together to better the community and help to alleviate hunger and deliver clean water,” said Cavin R. Hill, president of the Abilene Texas Stake, who oversees congregations in the communities of Abilene and San Angelo.
The Church delivered 25 pallets of food weighing more than 42,000 pounds to the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Some pallets were distributed to the Harvest Regional Food Bank in Texarkana.
“The challenges of lost wages and deficiencies in commodities can come to any of us during unforeseen events,” said President Charles Rhodus, who leads the Tyler Texas Stake. “We are blessed to ease the burdens of those most affected at this time.”
In North Texas, deliveries benefit local food pantries, communities, and charities grappling with the impact of last week’s massive snowstorm.
In the city of Plano, the Church is distributing 8,800 pounds of food to Minnie’s Food Pantry as part of its ongoing partnership to support Minnie’s with donations and volunteers.
Two trucks containing 48 pallets of water went to agencies such as Arlington Charities and Arlington Life Shelter in Fort Worth, and one truck delivery will support agencies in Longview. The Fort Worth truck provided clean water to 11 local churches and food pantries.
In San Antonio, car lines were reportedly long at the city’s main food bank on Tuesday, where Church volunteers joined with the Texas National Guard to distribute supplies to residents.
Latter-day Saints also worked at Red Cross warming centers, including the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio. They supplied blankets and snacks to families seeking comfort from the winter weather.
In Austin, Latter-day Saints mobilized to deliver about 200 blankets, 200 pairs of socks, and dozens of bags full of toiletries. Some of the blankets were dropped off at the Palmer Events Center, where those without power were gathered to stay warm. The bulk of supplies were donated to a city program that sends volunteers on regular meal delivery routes. One stack of blankets went to another church ministry, and some were handed out directly to people in homeless camps.
The Church sent seven truckloads of food and water to small towns in southern Texas.
One truckload containing 20 pallets of water was delivered to the City of Uvalde Emergency Services Department on Thursday. Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin was on-site to oversee the delivery and personally offer his thanks to Eagle Pass District President Ross Davidson, who oversees branches of the Church in Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Uvalde, Carrizo Springs, and Cotulla.
“We are so grateful for this help right now, and we’re going to be able to help so many people because of it,” said Mayor McLaughlin.
The mayor explained that some of the smaller satellite communities in his county were still without power and water. “We are going to send a lot of this shipment out to places like Camp Wood, Sabinal, and Rocksprings, where they’re still boiling their water.”
President Davidson estimated that this donation would impact approximately 16 communities throughout the 10 counties in his district.
“Clean water is a necessity that we all take for granted until we don’t have it any longer,” he said.
“Every single person in this area was impacted by this weather event, and we’re so happy to be able to provide some assistance to help get our communities back to normal,” added President Davidson. “As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that through this type of service, we can follow His [Christ’s] example and help bring His light into the world.”
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.