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Anna Kurian saw the lines at the North Texas Food Bank start to get longer and longer last year as the coronavirus pandemic rolled through Texas. Then came the storm.
“There’s still tremendous lines and a great need,” said Kurian, the food bank’s senior director of marketing and communications. “So I feel that this event was catastrophic, and is really going to impact our region for a long time.”
But there to help was Arizona Cardinals quarterback and Texas native Kyler Murray, who played high school football one town over from the Plano-based nonprofit.
Murray donated 60,000 meals to the North Texas Food Bank following last week’s devastating winter storm. The storm left millions without power for days, and Texas residents are still grappling with the effects.
“It means the world being able to give back,” Murray said. “It’s really bigger than anything that I could do. Obviously, sports is my thing, football is my thing, but I think I have a bigger purpose.”
Murray reached out to the food bank quickly, asking the best way to support. He knew how great the need was; Murray was there for the storm as well.
“My power was going on and off,” he told The Arizona Republic. “Barely had water — or didn’t have hot water, at least. But I know, not thinking about myself, there’s way more people that didn’t have food, don’t have the money to go get groceries.
“They didn’t have power, they didn’t have water at all. So for me, it was being blessed and having the ability to give back — it was a no-brainer for me. … I was just trying to give back and make sure people were safe.”
The North Texas Food Bank works across 13 different counties in the state, including the Dallas area, across roughly 10,000 square miles and up to the Oklahoma border. Kurian said even prior to the storm, they served the highest number of Texans since the Great Recession. That number could keep climbing as more families realize what they need.
Along with immediate survival needs — for power, for food, for water — came a mass of other problems that have left families scrambling. There were burst pipes, flooded houses and surging energy charges. Families rushed to find safe places to stay as prices went up and up. Some froze to death. The total toll will take months to determine.
And with all of that comes the mental anguish of living through another traumatic event.
While Murray feels very fortunate, he saw how devastating the storm could be in that regard.
“I don’t wish that on anybody,” he said. “It’s OK during the morning time, or when it’s sunny outside. But once it gets dark, and you don’t have any power, it’s just a dark feeling, man.
“It helped out (being) with my family. But even then, you’re just kind of stuck out in the cold, freezing temperatures and snowing outside, but can’t go anywhere. So it’s a tough situation.”
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The 60,000 meals will help those reeling from the overlapping catastrophes of the storm and the pandemic.
“I think the cards are really stacked against people that are already struggling to make ends meet,” Kurian said. “These are the kinds of gifts that allow us to make sure that we can meet that need.”
Murray plans to keep finding ways to give back to his communities. Kurian sees that helping in indirect ways too, as others learn more about the North Texas Food Bank through Murray.
“I think that probably the most important thing to note is that this storm was devastating, and the impact will be long standing and ongoing,” Kurian said. “But it’s not a hopeless situation because there (are) ways to get involved.”
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 480-356-6407. Follow her on Twitter @kfitz134.
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