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  • ‘It’s like Christmas’
    TEARS OF JOY: Liana Oechsle, the assistant director of Brazos River Food Bank, laughed and cried as she watched three trucks and a car, piled high with food donations, pull into the parking lot on Tuesday. Last week, the food bank was on the brink of shut

‘It’s like Christmas’

Community united to provide groceries for struggling food bank
Saturday, May 16, 2020

Chattering filled Brazos River Food Bank as volunteers carried donations from cars and placed them in piles inside.

Laughter rang through the room on Tuesday morning; everyone was in high spirits. 8,768 pounds of food were donated this week to the struggling food bank, a record which surprised all the volunteers.

Terry McNew, the founder and director of the food bank, and Liana Oechsle, a volunteer and the assistant director, were positively giddy.

As donations poured in, Oechsle updated McNew, who was organizing the groceries.

“We’re at 1,680 (pounds of food) just this morning!” Oechsle said, letting out a happy squeal at around 10 a.m.

“We’re gonna be on the ceiling in a minute. Peel us down!” McNew laughed.

Liana Oechsle, who spoke with the Hood County News last week about her anxieties surrounding the COVID-19-related food shortages at the bank, was crying tears of joy this week.

“Everyone is actually gonna have enough to make sandwiches for a whole week. We have spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, all the beans. It’s gonna be more than one meal,” she said, smiling. “Everybody gets cereal, everybody gets jelly, peanut butter. Not just, ‘Here’s your can of green beans.’”

Donations began pouring in first thing Monday morning. By that afternoon, they had over 700 pounds in donations.

McNew was astounded by some of the donations she received.

“One lady – I stopped by her house on the way here and got 40 (grocery bags) of food,” McNew said. “She said, ‘I don’t have much, but I have some food.’ I think she was giving us stuff out of her pantry! The people in Granbury are wonderful. They’re just generous.”

Another Hood County resident, according to McNew, donated freezer meals from her own freezer but had one special donation: a single chicken pot pie, which she wanted to be sure would reach the woman written about in last Saturday’s issue.

One giant donation caused excitement on Tuesday morning: Pecan Plantation residents were expected any minute with hundreds of pounds of food.

“I’m so excited to see what’s coming!” Oechsle said, bouncing with joy.

When three pickup trucks, their beds loaded to the brim with groceries, arrived at around 10:15 a.m., Oechsle was in tears.

“Oh my goodness. Isn’t that awesome?” she said, letting out a belly laugh, child-like awe in her voice. “They’re just piled.”

Col. Dennis Prevost, an Army veteran, was responsible for posting on the Nextdoor app in Pecan Plantation asking residents to donate.

“It came to my attention that there’s been a huge increase in demand, that they were going to be less than able to support Hood County and Brazos River area. So Pecan Plantation stepped up and donated in excess of 600 pounds. Three truckloads and a carload,” he said.

Little did he know that the three truckloads and a car full of groceries actually totalled over seven times what he expected.

He posted on the app Sunday morning, and was baffled at the swift response.

“On Sunday, Mother’s Day, 87 cars, trucks and golf carts donated at the collection point, at 9805 Ravenswood Road,” he said. “And the very next day, 109 more vehicles brought even more generous donations. That’s how widespread the community support is.”

Pecan Plantation’s load of groceries totalled 4,542 pounds.

All of this was received within 40 hours of Prevost’s post.

“Driving home yesterday – ’cause it was such a whirlwind – but when it was absorbing, I was bawling again,” Oechsle said on Tuesday. “Because it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, everybody’s gonna be getting sandwiches, everybody’s gonna be getting food.

“They can do so much stuff now.”

‘Everyone is actually gonna have enough...’

Liana Oechsle | 817-573-7066, ext. 254



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