The Food Care Center in Killeen has been hard at work using the donations of generous Texans to meet the need of hungry families.
The pandemic created a widening sense of food insecurity. Texans recognized the growing need for donations and came through in a big way.
Raymond Cockrell, executive director of the Food Care Center, credits the pandemic with helping people become more aware of their neighbor's well-being.
"It brought an all-time awareness to what we're doing. More so than ever in our 34-year history," said Cockrell.
The giving spirit can be contagious. One of the brighter moments of the Feed the Need campaign for Cockrell is seeing faces once assisted by the food care center coming back to give their time as volunteers.
"We've had military families come in who have told us early on in their military careers, they were the ones who had to come in and get services, get food from us," said Cockrell. "And now they're able to come back and donate to us."
It takes a crew of volunteers to make the mission happen. Those who give their time at the food pantry will tell you that even small gestures can make a big difference in someone's life.
"Just a smile and be able to help, you know. Give back," said pantry volunteer Sophia Epperson. "You know, take self out of the way, and just, you know, help the folks that's in need. Basically that's what we're here to do."
Epperson says that people from all walks of life have come to volunteer at the pantry. She hopes that those who haven't found a way to volunteer in their community yet will find in themselves to do so.
"I'm sure, you know, it'll put a smile on their face and make their day special," Epperson said.
Keeping children and families fed is a constant effort. The food care center is always accepting gifts of food.
"We can always use non-perishable items. Peanut butter, mac and cheese are always two that are top on the list that we have to go out and source," said Cockrell.
Whether it's with your time or with a box of food, there is always more than one way to care for those who are less fortunate. If you'd like to get involved in the Feed the Need food drive, you can make a monetary donation by visiting www.25cares.com.