We all hear about our federal government on steroids handing out money and benefits, training people to be like dogs, beholding to their provider.

Luckily, every person in every corner of our country doesn’t believe government is the answer to everything.

In Aransas County we have examples every day of non-governmental groups helping out the less fortunate. There are too many to name in this space.

Organizations like St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), Rockport-Fulton Good Samaritans (R-FGS), Children’s Coalition of Aransas County (CCAC), and the Salvation Army (SA) are always helping those in need. Castaways Thrift Shop is probably one of the most visible organizations in the county, and it indirectly benefits those in need through its donations of an unbelievable amount of money to local non-profits.

And, who can forget the hundreds of anonymous individuals – you might be one of them – who help out a neighbor, friend, or even a complete stranger in time of need.

A particular situation was brought to my attention recently and I’d like to share the story as told to me by SVdP President Patrick Ebarb

First, I love the way Ebarb started his email to me. It shows the type of humility required of the volunteers who operate within charitable organizations.

“Mike, I am not sufficiently smart to get the picture from my phone to your email address!” he wrote. “However, I texted to one of my volunteers and she will forward to you.  Following is the report I made to our membership related to this case.”

Sure enough, the picture accompanying this column showed up 18 minutes later in an email from Mary Posch.

So, here’s what happened.

A quadruple amputee mother, who basically lives in her motorized wheelchair, and her daughter, who suffers from bipolar disorder, found themselves in dire straits.

They were stranded in Rockport well before the Big Freeze when their minivan blew a head gasket.

“Their vehicle was not repairable due to age and mileage,” said Ebarb.

A suitable 2006 Chevy Trailblazer was found, purchased, and delivered to them at the Reef Motel where they had been staying since early March. SVdP, R-FGS, CCAC, and the SA paid the hotel bill.

SVdP purchased and took “motel food” to the family each week from HEB or Walmart.

That last week of motel charges was spilt between two anonymous Vincentians.

“The groups provided the room at considerable cost to each charity,” said Ebarb.

On April 21, more than a month after being stranded, the mother and daughter packed up all their gear and departed for Hallettsville, the town from which they hail.

Their “new” vehicle was purchased in Corpus Christi for $3,070, taken to Craig’s Tires for two new front tires, and new brakes all around for an additional $480.

An anonymous donor reimbursed SVdP all those costs.

Another Vincentian was moved to purchase a $200 Walmart gift card to present to this family before their departure.

“The daughter is a qualified driver and fiercely loyal to, and protective of, her mother. They travel with three dogs and grandmother’s ashes,” said Ebarb.

The mother and daughter have been gone for more than a month, but Ebarb said, “Please say prayers for this family and for the anonymous donor who came to their rescue with the vehicle and repairs.”

Ebarb said SVdP was the last hope for the mother and daughter since other charities had greatly exceeded their normal outlay for a given family, for all services, by substantial margins.

“We were in similar shape, but hung in there because of our motto - No act of Charity is foreign to the Society - and because we searched for and found a generous donor who stepped forward to save the day and these two beautiful souls from being out on the street in Rockport.”

Stories similar to this, albeit on a smaller scale, occur every day in Aransas County.

They don’t make headlines, like politicians spending other peoples’ money, but are probably more impactful on an individual basis.

The hearts of those who volunteer for charitable organizations in Aransas County are filled with love and gratitude.

Unfortunately, money is needed to fund the services these groups provide.

I encourage everyone to consider making a donation, especially if it hurts a little to do so, to a local charitable organization.

The person-to-person help each charitable group provides is more meaningful than bloated government programs in the long run. It helps both the recipient and giver.

The government can’t provide this “real” service, no matter how much it tries.

I know of a mother and daughter in Hallettsville who might agree.

Freezer tip

Writing this column made me think about our February freeze, and a tip I once read, which would tell me we might have a problem.

At some point prior to the freeze I had removed a little contraption that would have told me, with certainty, if the food that remained after the power failed, was bad.

Long power failures don’t occur very often. Our losing power for two weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and several days during the freeze, are not normal occurrences.

But what happens if you leave town for a week, your power goes out for whatever reason, and when you return you don’t suspect anything could be wrong with the food in your freezer?

Here’s the way you keep from eating food that might have gone bad while you were gone.

Simply place a small bowl (or something similar) filled with water in your freezer. When the water freezes, but a coin on top of the ice.

If you leave your house for more than a couple of days, check the little bowl upon your return.

If the coin is still riding high, you don’t have a problem.

If the coin is in the middle of the ice, or in the worst case scenario, it is at the bottom of the bowl, you have a problem.

Your power was off long enough to allow the ice to melt … even with the door remaining closed.

Until next week, have a good week.

Mike Probst can be reached at publisher@rockportpilot.com.

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