REAL lends a hand to those who need it

Volunteer Leon Martinez puts a box of produce into the trunk of a car at the REAL produce giveaway event at the Bee County Fairgrounds last week. Martinez came from Three Rivers to Beeville to volunteer for the event.

BEEVILLE – More than 200 cars rolled through the pavilion at the Bee County Fairgrounds as part of the Rural Economic Assistance League (REAL) pop-up produce giveaway on July 23.

Volunteers distributed more than 300 boxes of fresh produce to local residents during the two-hour event.

The boxes, which contained apples, pears, oranges, carrots, onions, tomatoes and other various produce products, were given away to any resident who signed up by simply providing a name and address.

Volunteers with REAL also delivered nearly 40 boxes to those who are home-bound, disabled or had no means of transportation to visit the fairgrounds on the day of the giveaway.

REAL, which is based in Alice, stages the giveaways in partnership with the Coastal Bend Food Bank and Corpus Christi Produce.

The Corpus Christi Produce truck arrived at the fairgrounds around 15 minutes before the start of the event. In a little over an hour, volunteers with REAL had already loaded up more than 200 cars with the boxes of fresh produce.

It was the first of two giveaways scheduled that day. The second was later that afternoon in Skidmore.

More than 100 boxes of produce were doled out to local residents at that giveaway.

Martin Ornelas directed both events for REAL.

He said his organization stages the giveaways three days a week across its nine-county radius.

He said REAL is also working on organizing giveaways for other essential items to help out the local communities.

In addition to the produce, volunteers were handing out information packets that included flyers on REAL’s programs for elderly and disabled housing, public transportation, adult day activity health services and home health, as well as a leaflet about hurricane safety and preparedness.

Ornelas said he wanted to reassure the public that the organization is taking every precaution possible to ensure the safety of its riders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the organization’s fleet of vans have all been outfitted with a plastic barrier between the passenger area and the driver, and are regularly cleaned and disinfected. The vans are also limited to one rider at a time as an extra precaution.

The fleet of busses, he said, are also cleaned and disinfected regularly, and have other safety measures in place as well.

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