ABILENE, Texas - Just a few weeks ago in the bitter cold, thousands of people came to what has become a special tradition for our community.
The 15th Mission Thanksgiving in Abilene went on as scheduled despite the winter storm – and the event received a multitude of donations.
Mark Hewitt, director of Love and Care Ministries, said that they have never faced the elements – in the 15 years of Mission Thanksgiving – like they did this year,
"I definitely think it was the coldest year we've ever had for Mission Thanksgiving," Hewitt said. "We've never had ice or sleet. But we had a tremendous outpouring with it being as bad as it was. I just want to tell everybody thank you for getting in their vehicles and getting into the streets that day because everything we get means a lot to Love and Care," Hewitt said.
The drive resulted in the reception of seven and a half trailers of food, clothing and $150,000 in cash and in-kind donations.
And it also marked the first time the organization had a drop-off location in Merkel. We checked with them and the Merkel community gave a trailer full of food and clothes and raised more than $2,300.
"I just think it's amazing how big it's gotten, going out to Merkel. I mean feeding as many people as we do every single day, more people are coming. Seeing the community and Merkel jumping on board is really cool," said Zach Hewitt, director of Love and Care Ministries in Merkel.
But even with all that was given, it was still less than the 13 trailers the organization has received in recent years. Mark Hewitt said it will be sorely missed.
"Normally, we have enough food that it will take us into April or May. We might get past February," he said.
But the weather didn't keep everyone away. More than 400 volunteers showed up the day of the event and 150 came the next day to help unload donations.
"Coming out in 26 degree weather, 16 (degree) wind chill factor with sleet and ice, and saying 'Here's what we can do,' it meant a whole lot to me," Mark Hewitt said. "650 people came and volunteered in two days even in the ice and snow... pretty amazing."
"Mission Thanksgiving is way bigger than any of us. It's bigger than Love and Care. It's bigger than KTXS and if we didn't have Mission Thanksgiving it would be hard for us to make it though out the year," Hewit said.
Love and Care Ministries is in need of any non-perishable food items. You can donate any time of the year at both their Abilene and Merkel locations.