Grandparents who raise grandchildren get helping hand

Blessed Angels hands out needed food supplies for spring break

CONVERSE, Texas – A parking lot at Alamo United Methodist Church was jammed Wednesday, not with vehicles, but with families. The majority of them were grandparents who now find themselves raising their grandchildren.

“One of our seniors, her daughter passed away and left her with six grandchildren,” said Marion Thomas, founder of Blessed Angels Community Center, an emergency food pantry that helps low-income veterans, seniors and families in need.

Thomas said thanks to donations from the community, she was able to buy food from the San Antonio Food Bank, which was enough for 500 families. She said many of their children rely on school lunches.

“The only meals that they have is what they get at school,” Thomas said.

Sarah McAfee said she and her 8-year-old great-granddaughter, Aaliyah, left with boxes and a basket filled with “lots of vegetables, fruit(s), snacks and just everything.”

“I am good,” McAfee said. “This is really a blessing.”

Although she didn’t mention whether Aaliyah is on the school lunch program, McAfee said, “I’m grateful for what they’re doing for us because it is a struggle sometimes.”

McAfee, like so many grandparents at the event, is on a fixed income.

“I can use the money I was going to use for food and pay a bill,” McAfee said. 

Like any grandparent, McAfee doesn’t like having to deny a child she’s raised almost since birth anything she wants or needs.

“I told her that, ‘Well, you know, I don’t have any money and I won’t get a check until tomorrow,’” McAfee said. “She said, ‘OK.’”

Regardless, Aaliyah said she knows she’s lucky to have a grandmother who loves her.

“I like spending time with my grandmother, and whenever she needs help, I can always be by her side,” Aaliyah said.

Stories like that of McAfee and Aaliyah are what Thomas said motivates her organization.

“One hundred percent of everything we get goes directly to those families. Nobody’s on salary,” Thomas said.

Thomas said more support is needed for another food giveaway planned for June after school lets out for the summer.

 “We’ll probably have 10 times this many people because we love serving the community. It’s what we do,” Thomas said. 

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