AUSTIN, Texas - With so many events canceled this year because of COVID-19, neighbors are looking for special ways to help each other get through a difficult holiday season.
This holiday season dozens of people got their Thanksgiving meal from a new source, neighbors they've never even met before.
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, Gus Cantu and his girlfriend wanted to give back. "So we put up a post, honestly only expecting to help one family, and it just blew up," he said.
His offering of a full Thanksgiving Day spread to someone struggling reached hundreds of people and started a chain reaction he never saw coming.
"People were all of a sudden volunteering like, 'Hey, this is a great idea, what can we do to help out?' And then other families started messaging me just saying, 'Hey, we kinda need help this year. Is there any way you could,'" Cantu said.
With so many long-running holiday traditions canceled and more people spending the holiday alone this year, Gus found dozens of families in the community looking for a hand. "I put together a text thread and people just started volunteering saying, 'Hey, we’ll take care of this family. We’ll take care of that family,'" said Cantu.
Some volunteers created posts of their own, which recruited even more neighbors. Just before Thanksgiving Day, donations of all sizes made their way from neighbor to neighbor.
"There’s actually some families who are not only getting food donations, there’s been single mothers living in brand new apartments, but they just haven’t been able to buy basic necessities, so people have gotten paper towels, toiletries, some people have even donated mattresses," Cantu said.
The idea was such a success, that Gus plans to do it all over again for Christmas and he already has more than two dozen neighbors who want to chip in.
"People are always going to need help and I think there’s people that are always willing to help... You don’t have to be a part of a great organization, you just gotta reach out to your neighbor and say, 'Hey, wanna do something great this year,'" said Cantu.
To be a part of Gus' effort to help families with Christmas meals or other items, email him at Gus@saucedaindustries.com