With limited time to prepare due to our unprecedented weather two weeks prior, 13 volunteers: 8 table monitors, 5 wagon rollers, came to Central Austin with our usual items: premade toiletry bags, water, winter warmth items (hats, gloves, scarves, blankets, warm clothing)… and handed to 159 folks who currently are living outside or have limited means. Both our Jeep and trailer were packed to the brim, and even some donations from volunteers who came brought items to share.
We met several others under the bridge Sunday. Two members of the Oak Hill Church of Christ were there handing out breakfast tacos, and Miss Patrice who came to help anyone who was helping our neighbors living outside.
Before opening the line we were greeted by Juan. He immigrated from Zaragoza, Mexico and was happy to have us there helping him along as he was currently unemployed due to COVID. Just like many who come under the bridge, they are not all without homes. Some are just struggling to provide basic living needs since all their monies go toward rent, utilities, and food.
After our stops in Central Austin, our EAT Bag Team members went out to distribute 15lb shelf stable food bags and gallon jugs of water. People have shifted around since the storm. Thanks to being a Beyond Belief Network team member of Foundation Beyond Belief, we received a $3500 donation to help recoup some funds putting people in motels, and providing supplies to folks who needed new tents, sleeping bags, tarps, tie downs, stakes… This donation will come in handy for weeks to come as people shift around the city. Yesterday, our organization was able to outfit one EAT bag stop yesterday with 21 tents, 26 sleeping bags, 15 tarps, 3 packs of stakes, 4 bundles of tie-downs, and one rubber mallet to share at the camp. Thank you again Foundation Beyond Belief for your donations to help recover from the last two weeks.
Thank you to the Lutostanskis for raising and personally donating money for getting folks into motels before the storm. Matt and Virginia were able to get 16 of the people we serve weekly with EAT bags into motels until Wednesday, along with extending stays for those who wanted even after Wednesday.
Austin Humanist at Work also had the privilege of assisting Maximizing Hope and other area agencies and org who housed 200+ people living outside in hotels from Temple, Tx to Shertz, Tx. We helped deliver food to the hotels prepared by Better Together, and even assisted making food for breakfast for Mosaic Church’s cold weather shelter. Not only that, we helped deliver food to nurses down at the Austin Convention Center COVID hospital, and a family at a local apartment complex. Thank you to Conduits of Change’s generous donation of coats, and blankets right before the storm, we helped a local retirement home who was without power for 3 days stay warm. It was wonderful to collaborate with area orgs and meet new friends who are as passionate as we are serving our community in most need.
Austin Humanists at Work would also like to thank Conduits of Change. They donated quite a bit of blankets, toiletries, coats, winter warmth clothing, shoes, pillows, food, water, socks… In fact, the blankets were dire during the power outages since a local retirement home was without power and the residents were very cold inside. We donated blankets and coats to help keep the residents warm. The rest of the donations came in handy for the giveaway and we’re very thankful for their generosity.
Thank you to Keep Austin Fed for your donation of water and hand sanitizer. This truly saved a lot of time trying to acquire cases of water two by two at local stores that have been in such limited supply. The hand sanitizer was a nice added surprise since our organization never gets enough to offer folks we serve.
We also received a surprise gift card from Alicia at Truist Bank from their Seeds of Hope program. It was truly a wonderful surprise since one of our wagons we use at our giveaways, and for delivering weekly EAT bags, gallon water containers, and other supplies to folks. Each encampment is different, some are across from businesses in under passes, in wooded areas, in fields, or places tucked behind businesses that are hard to reach just carrying supplies one at a time. You will often see use with our little Academy wagons. They are vital tools to help us get supplies to our neighbors living outside. Along with a new wagon, we were able to buy fresh fruit for the giveaway, a drop to some on Riverside Drive, and folks up at Braker Lane and I35: a case of bananas, 9lbs of apples, and 9lbs of mandarins. Thank you Alicia for choosing our organization. We still have $15 left on the card for future supply purchases.
Last shout out of thank: Masks in Austin for 45 handmade cloth masks, thank you; Debra Serrins for your donation of hand crochet hats, thank you; Buy Nothing Project communities all over Austin are surrounding areas, thank you; Rattan Creek community for donations of winter warmth items, food, toiletries…, thank you; Better Together for your food, water, and toiletries. We received many other donations over the month from various people and truly thank you for your support.
Our next giveaway is Sunday, March 28th, 2021. Our EAT Bag drop off are Sunday’s: March 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th.
Stay safe, and best of health to everyone!