Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints were numbered among the millions in Texas and beyond who were affected by recent historic winter weather, which knocked out power for days and caused food shortages.
Since the beginning of the crisis last month, local priesthood and Relief Society leaders ministered to fellow ward members — offering temporal and emotional support wherever needed.
Their individual efforts were supplemented by a broad response from Church headquarters. Welfare leaders dispatched 36 semi truckloads of food, water mattresses and other supplies from the Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City to communities in Texas and Oklahoma.
Newsroom reported 790,400 pounds of food and 17,280 cases of water were shipped to those affected by the historic weather disaster.
Humanitarian response highlights, as noted in Newsroom, included:
San Angelo and Abilene
In San Angelo and Abilene, Texas, more than 41,000 pounds of food arrived on Feb. 23.
The Food Bank of West Central Texas in Abilene was the first recipient. Half of the food shipment was unloaded and processed by Latter-day Saint volunteers and missionaries.
The semi truck then delivered the second half of the food to the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank in San Angelo, where local Church volunteers and nonprofit community leaders stocked the shelves to alleviate hunger caused by last week’s severe winter storms.
“In the 13-county service area, approximately 400,000 people were served by the food bank last year,” said Lee Pipkin, executive director of the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank. This food donation was expected to provide over 15,000 meals to local recipients.
On Feb. 21, Latter-day Saints were busy unloading 20 pallets of bottled water in Church parking lots to help the Abilene and San Angelo communities. Working with the United Way of the Concho Valley in San Angelo, the Church provided water for many citizens who called in for help.
In Abilene, Latter-day Saint volunteers delivered water to citizens in need, including those in the Lyndale Abilene Memory Care Center, who were without water because of a broken water main. Water was also donated to the local Big Country Chapter of the American Red Cross.
“[We are] very pleased that these food banks and the Church had an opportunity to work together to better the community and help to alleviate hunger and deliver clean water,” said Abilene Texas Stake President Cavin R. Hill, who presides over congregations in the communities of Abilene and San Angelo.
Tyler and Texarkana
The Church delivered 25 pallets of food weighing more than 42,000 pounds to the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler on Feb. 24. Some pallets were distributed to the Harvest Regional Food Bank in Texarkana.
“The challenges of lost wages and deficiencies in commodities can come to any of us during unforeseen events,” said Tyler Texas Stake President Charles Rhodus. “We are blessed to ease the burdens of those most affected at this time.”
In North Texas, deliveries benefited local food pantries, communities and charities grappling with the impact of the massive snowstorm.
Dallas and Fort Worth area
In the city of Plano, the Church distributed 8,800 pounds of food to Minnie’s Food Pantry as part of its ongoing partnership to support Minnie’s with donations and volunteers.
Two trucks containing 48 pallets of water went to agencies such as Arlington Charities and Arlington Life Shelter in Fort Worth, and one truck delivery will support agencies in Longview. The Fort Worth truck provided clean water to 11 local churches and food pantries.
In San Antonio, car lines were reportedly long at the city’s main food bank when Church volunteers joined with the Texas National Guard to distribute supplies to residents.
Latter-day Saints also worked at Red Cross warming centers, including the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio. They supplied blankets and snacks to families seeking comfort from the winter weather.
In Austin, Latter-day Saints mobilized to deliver about 200 blankets, 200 pairs of socks and dozens of bags full of toiletries. Some of the blankets were dropped off at the Palmer Events Center, where those without power were gathered to stay warm. The bulk of supplies were donated to a city program that sends volunteers on regular meal delivery routes.
One stack of blankets went to another church ministry, and some were handed out directly to people in homeless camps.
Eagle Pass area
One truckload containing 20 pallets of water was delivered to the City of Uvalde Emergency Services Department.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin was on-site to oversee the delivery and offer his thanks to Eagle Pass District President Ross Davidson, who presides over branches in Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Uvalde, Carrizo Springs and Cotulla.
“We are so grateful for this help right now, and we’re going to be able to help so many people because of it,” said Mayor McLaughlin.
The mayor explained that some of the smaller satellite communities in his county were still without power and water at the time of the delivery. President Davidson estimated that this donation would impact approximately 16 communities throughout the 10 counties in his district.
“Clean water is a necessity that we all take for granted until we don’t have it any longer,” he said.
“Every single person in this area was impacted by this weather event, and we’re so happy to be able to provide some assistance to help get our communities back to normal,” added President Davidson. “As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that through this type of service, we can follow His [Christ’s] example and help bring His light into the world.”