Special projects for the holidays season oftentimes don’t need much explanation. A beautiful array of lights or a decadent gingerbread house speak for themselves on their beauty.
While an 8x12 shed and plates of food given away by the First Baptist Church of Refugio don’t have the typical bells and whistles of the season, they have an inspirational story behind them, a story of togetherness and community that defines December.
The story begins on the cooking front, as FBC Church Trustee Lenny Anzaldua was dealing with hunks of meat before chunks of wood. In March of 2019, Anzaldua and his family decided to begin giving out free meals on select Sundays, hoping to help out the Refugio community.
“We did it purely on, let’s just do this,” Anzaldua said. “We barbecued some chicken for the first one, I figured maybe 50 to 60 people might show up, so I did 60 pieces of chicken … then I did an extra 12 pieces of us at the house. Shoot, we ended up giving away all 72 pieces.”
While the Anzaldua clan was deprived of their own pieces of chicken, they discovered a real market for the meals, continuing with further cookouts.
“We’ve had a pretty good plate each time,” Anzaldua said. “Then, (our) reverend said ‘why don’t y’all bring this to the church?’ I told him sure, but we’re doing it out of our pocket. He said don’t worry about that, we’ll find you a grant.”
A grant was indeed found with the move to the First Baptist grounds, to the tune of $1,500 for meals from the FBC mother church, which helps out area FBCs such as the one in Refugio. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, the twice-monthly meal sessions averaged over 100 Sunday patrons.
As plates were passed around at FBC, residents would donate $10 or $20 at a time into the church coffers. Eventually, an additional $600 had been donated to the cause. The generosity was appreciated by Anzaldua and the FBC team, putting the funds back into providing food and other services.
“There were some families where, I’m not going to say they wouldn’t have ate if it weren’t for us, but, I think there were some families that would not have ate as well on Sunday afternoons if it weren’t for us,” Anzaldua said.
In order to keep funds up for future church projects, FBC’s latest fundraiser was a positive occurrence of happenstance. An area carpentry workshop class was ousted from its original location, with the church offerings its facilities as a backup. After back-and-forth scheduling due to the pandemic, the class was finally ready to embark on a final project, an 8x12 storage shed meeting housing requirements.
Once the shed was completed, the product was delivered back to the church as a thanks for the facility usage. FBC decided to hold a drawing for the shed, taking in donations for a chance at the carpentry class’ work, eventually raising $4,685.
The winner of the shed, Refugio resident Lanell Wright, was a coincidence in its own right.
“Funny thing was, she had just finished tearing down the shed she had and hauled it off not more than a week ago,” Anzaldua said. “She finished paying for a guy to tear it down and haul it off … she’s got some strong prayers going.”
The current plan for the church now is two-fold. First, install the shed in the vacant space at Wright’s abode. Second, finish off the 2020 meal-giving season strong with a Christmas push. Not only will the church give Christmas meals for those in need, Anzaldua and his constituents will be handing out meals to those working on the holiday.
On the menu for this year will be ham, green beans, bread, mashed potatoes, gravy and what Anzaldua calls “lots of love.”
“We’ve been able to do some real good with the little bit we have,” he said.