But you said that we could eat today!

Just a few (23) years ago, I took a job as a volunteer director for a small, local non-profit. It sounded fun, easy and a way to get to know new folks since I had just moved into the county. I had come from many years of raising funds for larger non-profits and I was ready for some new and exciting challenges with this little agency called Allen Community Outreach.

My first challenge came my first week on the job. The volunteer who was managing our front desk came to me in tears. She said she just could not do that job and wanted to be placed elsewhere. When I asked her why, she told me of the woman who had just left our office.

The young mom with a little son came to ACO’s front office and asked for assistance. She explained to the volunteer that she needed help from a local food pantry, and at the time we were only a referral agency to other pantries in the area. The volunteer wrote out a voucher and explained to the woman that she would need to take the voucher to the pantry the following day when they opened. The little boy overhead and started crying. He said to his mom, “but you said that we could eat TODAY!”

After hearing this, I was in tears as well. I could not imagine the despair of that young mom unable to feed her child, or her child that was so hungry that he cried. To end this story, ACO did have a small closet at the time with donated snack foods, crackers, and cans of things like soups and tuna. Nothing substantial, but we were able to give them enough to eat that day until she could get to the pantry.

This little story is why I am so immensely proud of the big impact that ACO has made over the past 20 years in preventing hunger in Collin County. Thanks to donors and volunteers, we were able to build from the small closet of donated cans to one of the largest pantries in the county by providing more than 1.2 million meals each year to local families.

Not only do we provide a two-week supply of groceries with each visit, but families also leave with fresh produce, meats, and dairy products. They can return twice a month to stock up. In addition, we have household essentials such as laundry detergent, toothpaste, toilet tissue, shampoos, and diapers. By assisting a family with several hundred dollars’ worth of groceries each month, they can make their rent, or the car payment, or pay their utility bill which they might not have had the extra cash to do so.

That day back in February of 2001, we were able to feed that little boy thanks to donors who were thoughtful and generous to stock our closet for emergencies. And thanks to partnerships, food drives and giving neighbors in our community, today we are feeding hundreds of families each week. This is why YOU are so vital to ACO.

Without you and your support, we could not have fed that child that day. And without your continued support, we cannot continue to feed the hundreds of hungry children each week.

Summertime is quickly approaching and for another year, ACO will provide breakfast and lunch food boxes packed with groceries especially for school aged children who are at home over the summer. Summertime does not have to be a burden on families who struggle to feed their families and need extra groceries while their kids are at home. ACO is here to help. Please visit ACOcares.org for our list of kid-friendly foods we need to fill those boxes and little tummies.

A few years later I had a little boy of my own. I would remember this story many times and that young mother who struggled. I hope that ACO was able to get them through the immediate crisis she faced. I hope that today that young man is proud of his mom who went to such lengths to provide and survive. There will never be a day on my watch when a child cries because they are hungry. I don’t ever want to hear the words again, “But you said we could eat today!”

One more thing…

I am bursting with news I want to share with you about our expansion and how ACO will continue to serve many more families in the decades ahead. But it’s a little premature for announcements, so please stay tuned and I hope to have big, big news about our blueprint for the future.

In the meantime, please join hands with ACO as we serve families today and prepare for tomorrow with more programs and services. To do so, we need your support. Due to the economy, many of our donors understandably have had to cut back on their gifts. But those who can afford to continue your financial gifts, please do. We need you now, more than ever before.



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