By Joshua Smith
In the wake of tragedy, the strength of a community rises. After the Aug. 3 domestic terror attack at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, many residents felt a collective need to spring into action. Blood banks had to turn people away because there were so many volunteers, donated funds flowed in for the families of victims and the city attempted to pick up the pieces after such a horrific act.
When the attack happened, the Department of State’s El Paso Passport Agency was participating in the Feds Feed Families campaign. This program was created in 2009 to supplement food pantries across the United States when there is a decrease in donations. In the midst of the El Paso tragedy, the campaign became all the more important.
Irma Tarango, a cashier for the agency, notified the food collection group—employees Josh Smith, Adriana Jurado, Estrella Nowak, Martha Wilson and Anna Sanchez—that food donations were being accepted for the victims of the shooting and their families at the Family Assistance Center. Jurado made contact with coordinators of this initiative and discovered that in addition to collecting canned goods, The Salvation Army had their mobile kitchen on hand and they were accepting donations to cook for the victims, their families and first responders.
Agency employees collected and donated nearly 250 pounds of food, and volunteers from El Paso Fights Hunger were able to use the donations to cook meals in the days following the attack. These donations included canned goods that Fraud Manager Graciela Enriquez had purchased from the targeted Walmart, a mere 25 minutes before the attack occurred.
“Helping our city and our people should be an action, not just a reaction,” Jurado said.
The El Paso Passport Agency will continue to collect food through the Feds Feed Families initiative. It will take time and strength to heal from what has happened, but the agency is proud to have been able to do a small part to help rebuild their community. For additional information about Feds Feed Families, email FedsFeedFamilies@state.gov or visit https://www.usda.gov/our-agency/initiatives/feds-feed-families.
Joshua Smith is a fraud associate level II at the El Paso Passport Agency.