– A Message from Marjorie Vaneskahian Burr, ACO CEO –
Under full disclosure, I am married to an ACO Volunteer. I am also a family that has been impacted by COVID-19. My husband is retired, but has a part-time business that supplements our living expenses, which ceased in March. Since then, he has been volunteering at ACO. So I have multiple views from my ACO office as I see and hear the people around our agency.
I see our dedicated staff who are working so hard to provide timely services and programs, and maintain funding. I see the kind-hearted volunteers who are willingly giving of their time to assist the staff and help serve their community, and I hear stories from the viewpoint of a volunteer that my husband shares with me. I feel the pain of other families like mine who have been impacted by COVID-19, as well as seeing the people who were dependent on ACO long before 2020. These are the people of ACO.
I am blessed to have my job and supportive family. I am grateful for the volunteers who are helping to support our mission, and to the donors who make sure that we can continue to operate. I am sympathetic and understanding to the fear and stress that so many families are facing, not knowing where to turn for help because of a recent job loss.
I have two stories to share with you that happened recently….
1. Last week a young man came to the pantry late in the afternoon. He was well-dressed and driving a nice car, which was idling in the parking lot. When he realized the pantry had already closed, he sat down on the bench by the locked pantry door and put his head in his hands. Shear frustration and helplessness had overcome him. Luckily, a staff member noticed him and asked if she could help. In tears, this grown man lifted his head and simply said, “I don’t even know.” She asked if he needed food, and tried to get more information as to why he had come to our agency. He said “I just got back into town, I have no food, no money and someone said ACO could help me. I can’t even turn off my car because the battery is dead.” Because we have a well-trained and skilled case management and counseling staff, we were able to provide him with resources and food, AND HOPE! He left comforted, but we were the ones in tears. He touched our hearts. We didn’t judge his nice car, or the fact that he was well dressed. That meant nothing. He needed our help!
2. Yesterday was a regular food distribution day at ACO for hungry families who wait in line for free groceries to be loaded into their cars. Volunteers and staff work hard and they know that the type of car you drive or how you look doesn’t represent how hungry you are. During yesterday’s distribution, a car pulled up in the line and popped their trunk, like the other cars in line, while they stayed in their car as we ask everyone to do for safety reasons. As the volunteers began loading into that trunk, they noticed quite a few bags of groceries from Kroger. Remembering not to judge or assume, they loaded our food on top of the bags already there and told the folks in the car to have a nice day and let them leave. Thirty minutes later the car was back in line. That car was a donor who had been to the grocery store and thought they were in the drop off line for food donations! We apologized and thanked them for their donations as we unloaded their car! To that donor, you were a reminder to us all that everyone is the same- we don’t recognize the difference in a family in need of assistance and a family who is willing to provide for others. We thank you for your patience and generosity! We need your help!
See the last lines in stories 1. and 2.? “He needed our help!” AND “We need your help!” That sums it up in two simple sentences. THAT is why and how ACO exists.
Food distribution has tripled since February. We are managing hundreds and hundreds of applications from COVID-19 impacted families who are needing assistance in housing and utilities all across Collin County. That is in addition to the many families who were already at risk that contact us daily for assistance.
While our main focus remains in emergency services, ACO is currently holding a drive for new school supplies and backpacks for hundreds of local students as they return to their education, in whatever form that takes. All students need supplies!
Our Main Street Resale Shop is still closed and will remain so in the coming months as we utilize the space for storage of food and workspace, which means no operating income from sales. We encourage you to shop the ACO Boutique at Watters Creek and hope to announce a reopening of our household items donation intake soon.
As I stated above, I am blessed, grateful, sympathetic and understanding to all that is going on around us. But most of all, I am thankful to live and work in a caring and giving community like Collin County. Thank you for ALL coming together to hold hands with ACO. We are ALL COMMUNITY OUTREACH because of YOU!
One more thing…. There’s still time to GIVE WHERE YOU LIVE, during our summer campaign. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of the largest funding drive we have each year. There’s never been a better year to give where you live! See the link to donate online below or mail your check to the address at the bottom of the page.
A few more days to FILL THE BUS…
Whether it is virtual or in-person, it’s time to start our “Fill the Bus” school supplies drive. School may look different for many Allen ISD students, but no matter what, there is a need for school supplies.
Do you follow ACO on Facebook?
If not, you are missing out! There are so many fun, feel-good stories and photos on ACO- All Community Outreach’s Facebook page. See who’s making it happen in Collin County to support families in need.
There are the Facebook groups, Bad Moms of Allen who are challenged with the Bad Dads of Allen to get the most donations of ACO’s Summer Kids Food Program and School Supplies Drive. Don’t miss their Collections with the Allen Police Dept on Monday. Read more about it on ACO’s Facebook page, as well as the many businesses who are making it all happen in ACO’s name!
Lots of kids are raising money for ACO through our #GWYLKid Challenge, and thanks to a matching donor TEXAS SPORTS PHOTOS, they are motivated! They are baking cupcakes and cookies, hosting lemonade stands, washing cars and even making pickles for sale! We love our young donors!!
Also on Facebook is where you can find information on when we are open, where we have collections, what ACO is up to and why we do it. Don’t miss it- go like our page right now!
Show Your Support While Promoting Your Business! Get your name and logo on the back of Molly! Thanks to generous grants, we were able to purchase a much-needed new truck for the ACO Food Pantry and we’ve named her MOLLY. For $500-$1500, you can have your name/logo seen all over Collin County, while showing your support for preventing hunger. Limited space is available for sponsors of Molly. Interested? Contact Rhonda Ptak, ACO Chief Community Development Officer, for details, email@example.com.