Texas Freeze: South Houston, TX
In February 2021, a severe wintry storm hit Texas, resulting in record sub-freezing temperatures for a few days. The extremely frigid temperatures led to power outages for 1.4 million Houston area homes, leaving more than 100 people dead and more than $100 billion in property damages.
A week prior to the arrival of this weather, members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of South Houston were contacted by several volunteer organizations requesting help with providing supplies to the homeless so they could weather the severe cold spell. Hope Impacts, a non-profit organization, had arranged a warmup center and sleepover location at CrossPoint Church to host the homeless in Katy, TX for the entire cold weather spell. However, they needed critical supplies such as warm clothing, blankets and food.
The Sai volunteers organized a winter clothing drive, collecting more than 300 jackets, sweaters and blankets by the first night of sub-freezing temperatures. Four drop-off locations were arranged in three cities around Houston. As the need for the items was communicated to Sai Center members, donations started to pour in. Along with winter clothing and blankets, volunteers also collected more than 100 pounds of snacks and 500 bottles of water to provide to the needy.
The drop-off of these supplies occurred over two days. On February 13th 2021, about 6 volunteers split into three groups to distribute these items to the homeless living under bridges in the Houston downtown area. The remainder of the supplies were dropped off at CrossPoint Church on the evening of February 14th, when the freezing rain began and roads were deemed unsafe for driving. Although the drive to the church was only four miles, it turned out to be an extremely arduous commute due to the hazardous driving conditions, further aggravated by poor visibility. By this time, the power outages had begun to occur across Houston and the street lights were out. In fact, the volunteers had to navigate their way through two pitch-dark neighborhoods but continued to brave their way to deliver supplies on time to the church. Once they reached the church, they unloaded the items, hit on all sides by the cold blustery winds and freezing rain. Once the items were offloaded, the volunteers spent an hour sorting and arranging the items so each homeless person at the facility could easily identify and pick up items as needed.
Following the supply drop-off, volunteers have been in regular contact with the Hope Impacts facility and have delivered several other items such as food, socks, clothes and toiletries periodically.
Michelle Peddicord, the Katy Branch Manager of Hope Impacts, thanked the volunteers. She said: “We are so grateful to you and your group for all you have done to help support our organization and the people we serve. So many people have been blessed by your generosity. We are incredibly grateful.”