BELTON, Texas — Many people living at the Belle Oaks Apartments in Belton are struggling to make ends meet. A group of Belton retirees is doing their part to help out.
Leah Earle is the founder of Stranger No More. She, her husband and other retirees give back to those in need in the community. The group focuses a lot of their time on the children and their families at Belle Oaks. Last week the volunteers handed out hot meals, snack bags, and toiletries to more than 80 residents, many of them children.
"A lot of the residents that come to Belle Oaks are coming off of the streets. It's great that they can get staple food products at food banks around town but they don't have pots and pans to cook them in," Earle said. "They don't have microwaves to make a microwaved meal. They don't even have beds and blankets and sheets. So when you have a family that's come off the streets often times they need everything and we can't do everything but we can sure help,"
The children who are out of school for summer break and don't always know where their next meal is coming from are thankful.
"I come out here because they give us food and help my family out when we need something and I really enjoy that. It makes me feel happy because I know there's always somebody there for me when I need something," said 13-year-old Kaitlyn Snellings.
"It makes me happy because if we don't have any food, we can get some from here," said 10-year-old Diego Sanchez.
The group also helps the families during the holidays and with household items and clothing by holding clothing and food drives throughout the year. Earle said they've become a constant in the children's lives.
"That kind of drives us, that idea that we get to connect with them. The children tell us about school and their friends and family and we get a chance to be part of their lives and hopefully, they can count on us for something, if nothing more than a happy face and a hot meal," Earle said.
Earle hopes the group's efforts inspire more retirees to support and give back to the next generation.
"If we all do a little we can do a lot, everybody just do a little bit. It will make the world a better place," Earle said.
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