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Rotary Club of El Campo President Cheryl Roitsch makes a drop off at Julie Satsky’s El Campo home Saturday, one of almost 60 made following the El Campo Leader-News/Rotary Club food drive. Each recipient received at least two bags full of assorted items.

The El Campo community united for local senior citizens in need, distributing more than 100 bags of groceries Saturday that were collected for the El Campo Leader-News’ first food drive.

“Y’all (the Leader-News) were great and the Rotary Club,” Recipient Lexie Rothbauer said. “I will use them all (the items in the bags). I’ve got the socks on right now. I appreciate it so much. It was just wonderful.”

Between 110 and 116 bags of goods were distributed to seniors in the local community, with each household getting the equivalent of about six plastic shopping bags filled with groceries.

“The El Campo community has a wonderful tradition of stepping up to help those in need, but I think they truly outdid themselves on this drive,” Leader-News Publisher Shannon Crabtree said.

The recipients were seniors registered for Wharton County Junior College’s Meals on Wheels or Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church’s Labor of Love.

“We were able to ensure each recipient truly had a need for assistance,” Crabtree said. “Every one of them had already qualified for assistance from one of those two programs; some both.”

Piles of canned foods – like beans, tuna and veggies– were donated, along with countless bottles of toothpaste, shampoo and lotion. Bottled water, toilet paper, socks, soap, deodorant and disinfecting wipes were also plentiful in the bags distributed.

Some community members made cash donations, which were used to buy other needed items.

The donation drive was created after February’s winter freeze left many local seniors without power and water. For elderly El Campoans already in need, the extreme weather exacerbated their situations.

“Sadly, seniors are all-too-often an overlooked group,” Crabtree said. “Everyone assumes that they have either retirement income or a family that will supplement their social security. That’s often not the case.”

The Leader-News and other volunteers will be taking a break after this food drive, but another may happen in the near future. The newspaper annually participates in other charity drives, such as Toys for Tots, so be on the lookout for opportunities to give.

Other groups may be the recipients of future drives, or seniors might be the target again.

“Right now, I want to take time to assess where we can help most,” Crabtree said.

Leader-News employees as well as volunteers from El Campo’s Rotary Club, Wharton County Junior College’s Senior Citizens Program, Pilgrim Rest and local 4-H members helped organize, bag and distribute the donations. 

Essential helpers during the drive included Rotary club President Cheryl Roitsch and members Mayor Chris Barbee, former city manager Mindi Snyder, Niesha Brown, Michelle Roy, John VonDerAu and Bradly Stenho. Locals who also helped make the drive possible were Russell Hill of KULP Radio, the P.R.E.T.T.Y. (Precious Exquisite Talented Trained Young) Girls, M.A.C.H.O. (Making A Change Helping Others) Guys at Pilgrim Rest, Rotary Interact, 4-H and WCJC.

A special thank you to locals Curtis Clapp, Larry Staff and the city Inspections Department crew, Gary Raybon, Wayne Popp, Gloria Marek, Laura Glaze and her daughters, Pam Hunt and countless other community members who generously donated.

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