By Jeff Miller
Special to The Texas Catholic
“I’m 74 and then I had to take my daughter (and her family) in because they lost their jobs,” said Janie Longoria of Dallas. “If I could go to work, I would. Any little thing will help me. Honey, this is a blessing.”
The drive was held at the Love Connection parking lot on Harry Hines Boulevard a few blocks west of Love Field, a completely paved property that normally would accommodate 1,300 spaces of remote airport parking. The drive was scheduled to run from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. But with vehicles beginning to line up three hours early, Catholic Charities Dallas president and CEO Dave Woodyard gave the go-ahead 15 minutes early to begin. Supplies ran out at about 2:30.
More than 200 volunteers working in two shifts coordinated the flow of vehicles that snaked their way around cones through the massive lot. Recipients were registered (so Catholic Charities Dallas can track the impact of the event) and put in an “order” of what was specifically needed. At the distribution point, volunteers worked in two lanes of traffic like race-car pit crews filling orders with boxes of food plus bags of apples, potatoes and lettuce. And, when requested, diapers.
Among the volunteers hurriedly filling back seats and trunks was Amy Taylor, development officer at Catholic Charities Dallas. Working at the finish of the operation, Taylor waved back toward the hundreds of vehicles that contained waiting recipients and said she was shocked.
“I had no idea we were going to have this much need,” said Taylor, a parishioner at Prince of Peace in Plano. “It’s been really tough times with not only COVID but the winter storms. Who would have ever thought when we planned this a couple months ago what the need was going to be? That we’re able to do this is really quite a blessing, for me personally and for all of us who are participating.”
“The effect of (the pandemic) is going to be for months to come,” Woodyard said. “When they lift the moratoriums on evictions and things like that, I mean, it’s going to be ‘Katy bar the door.’ ”
The event was the latest in Catholic Charities Dallas’ efforts to help the needy during particularly challenging times across the nine-county area that it serves. During the February weather-power-water emergency, CCD provided 66,379 meals to 1,892 families from Pleasant Grove to Irving. It also has covered costs for temporary housing and financial assistance for basic and immediate needs.
Jerry Hayes of Dallas neared the receiving area, having waited about 30 minutes while zigzagging through the lot.
“Really fast,” Hayes said. “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s a good thing. People are really needing this stuff. It gives me a chance to tell someone else where to get help.
“I don’t know, man. It’s just God, I guess.”