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Big Country EC News

Hidden Hunger Here at Home

Help local food banks and seniors this holiday season

Through Big Country Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round Up program, we have become increasingly aware of a problem that exists, to some degree, in every community we serve: hunger. Considering the hospitable, neighborly feel that West Texas is known for, it is hard and uncomfortable to imagine that people we know may not have enough to eat. I know I’ve seen commercials about need and feeding the hungry and thought the problem was far away without realizing how great the need is right here at home. The problem is here and very real, and your help is needed.

Operation Round Up was created with a simple mission: to help locally where there is need. Since Big Country EC’s ORU program began in 2015, members’ contributions of a few cents each month have translated into valuable donations to a variety of charitable organizations, including food banks and programs similar to Meals on Wheels that benefit senior citizens and others across the 12 counties we serve: Borden, Fisher, Garza, Haskell, Jones, Kent, Mitchell, Nolan, Scurry, Shackelford, Stonewall and Throckmorton. These donations are very helpful and appreciated, but more is needed—more money and more volunteers. As we have all heard, need knows no season. With colder temperatures expected soon and Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, the season of great need for these programs is imminent.

Whether to organize food drives, stock shelves with canned goods, make trips to food banks, wait for deliveries from food banks, prepare meals for the elderly and homebound, or deliver those meals, volunteers and the money required to run these programs are in short supply. Regardless of which part of our community you look at, food banks and senior meal programs need more help.

The Stonewall County Senior Citizens Center is just one agency that has withdrawn from receiving federal assistance (financial aid in the form of food and other supplies) because the expense of keeping up with federal guidelines and regulations was more than the organization could bear. The center remains functional and able to serve seniors of Stonewall County thanks to private donations and support from the county, which is limited, according to director Lynda Hill. Many seniors rely on the center not only for food but often for socialization. Whether a warm meal is delivered to their home or enjoyed in the company of others at the center, that single interaction may be the joy of the day for a senior in need.

Rotan businesswoman Nancy Sparks volunteers on her lunch break once a week to drive a delivery route for the Fisher County Senior Citizens Center in Rotan. “To see the look on their faces when I walk in the door warms my heart and breaks it at the same time,” she said. “For so many, this may be their only full meal of the day or the only person they see in their day.”

As you look forward to the food and fellowship of Thanksgiving and Christmas, pause to count the blessings we often overlook that would be richly appreciated by neighbors who have so much less. If you are able to donate nonperishable items, a few dollars or your time to your community’s food bank or local senior or meal delivery program this holiday season, please consider doing so.