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Volunteers share the blessings of the season

November 23, 2018

HARLINGEN — The man with the grizzly beard stood in the cold wet weather with bags in hand.

The lines across his face marked the many roads he’d traveled, both the joys and the sorrows.

He wore the looks of both pain and gratitude as he waited for some much-needed food from the Harlingen Neighborhood Food Pantry.

“It helps a lot,” said Les Collvins, 61. “My wife’s on disability and I haven’t worked in awhile.”

Yesterday, Collvins was in a line that stretched across the hallways and into the parking lot of the food pantry at the Church of Christ at 8th Street and Harrison Avenue.

About 80 volunteers had gathered to hand out turkeys, bread and canned foods. Plastic boxes of colorful cupcakes, pies and sweet breads sat on tables next to pop tarts and Ramen noodles. A woman handed out canned spaghetti sauce to people as they pushed small carts through the line.

Carly Thomas had brought several young volunteers from Gutierrez Middle School.

“I think it’s teaching them to be more caring toward people during important holidays like this,” Thomas said. “I love seeing how it puts smiles on their faces.”

The students, many of whom Thomas worked with the previous year at St. Alban’s Episcopal Day School, seemed to enjoy the opportunity to help.

“It’s good to come out here at Thanksgiving,” said William Buford, 12. “It’s good to help someone in need.”

Thomas’s own son, Ty Thomas, seemed to be in the spirit of giving, perfect for the season.

“I like helping people that don’t have that much stuff,” said Ty, 9. “I love to give them stuff. I am trying to help give back.”

Such was the attitude of Laini Simpson, 12, who attends seventh grade at South Texas Preparatory Academy in Edinburg. She lives in Harlingen and attended St. Alban’s last year. Volunteering at the Food Pantry is something she’s used to.

“We would come here the first Wednesday of each month,” she said. “It’s fun because I want to help. I’m helping people put food in their cars and bringing back the carts. They seem very thankful that someone is helping them.”

Miguel Lopez, 48, was certainly grateful.

“I am really blessed, really blessed,” he said. “I get disability. I’m barely surviving. This helps a lot.”

Almost 200 people picked up some much need groceries, said Jim Coffman, director of the food pantry.

“I think it’s very successful,” he said. “I think people are really hungry. We will be giving out turkeys again the three Wednesdays before Christmas.”

Meanwhile, back inside, a young girl placed a half-gallon of milk in a woman’s cart; a woman at the next table gave out macaroni and cheese. Another woman handed out powdered mashed potatoes, and everyone seemed to appreciate the joy of the moment.

twhitehead@valleystar.com

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