By Danielle McCarthy Everett
About 500 volunteers from the Belton-Temple area teamed up to serve thousands of pounds of ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and more at the 17th annual H-E-B Feast of Sharing in Temple last Thursday evening. Droves of community members packed the Mayborn Convention Center to kick off the holiday season and share a meal together at the free event that also included children’s activities and live entertainment.
“This is a way for us to really thank our customers for coming out and being our loyal shoppers and celebrate the holiday,” said Tamra Jones, public affairs manager and Feast of Sharing coordinator for the Temple event. “There are a lot of folks out there, whether they’re elderly, single parents or young families that are looking for a way and things to do, and this is just a little part of what H-E-B can do to spread some of the spirit of the holidays and Christmas.”
Jones said the event is solely run by volunteers, many of whom work for one of the H-E-B stores in Belton or Temple. Those in charge of plating the food formed rows of assembly-style lines. Eric Tovar, general manager at Belton H-E-B Plus!, stood alongside those volunteers as they filled each plate with food, one-by-one.
“I find so much value in this one event every year because it’s about sharing,” said Tovar, a Belton resident who has been volunteering at the event for at least ten years now. “It’s not just about someone who’s having difficulties finding that next meal. It’s for everybody, so there’s a lot of alignment with what we do in our communities and what’s important to H-E-B and what’s important to me personally.”
Tovar said he always encourages his store employees, known as partners, to volunteer at the annual event. He said many specifically requested time off to get heavily involved in this year’s event, including store leaders, department managers and hourly partners.
“We couldn’t be more proud that we have built a culture of employees who want to give back and want to do this for the community and are proud to be here with their red H-E-B shirts and Santa hats and really spreading holiday cheer,” said Jones.
For those who missed the Temple event, H-E-B will host another Feast of Sharing at the Killeen Convention Center on Tuesday, Dec. 13, from 4 to 8 p.m.