Helping hands reach out in a time of crisis

Along with the extremely tough circumstances that many faced, there were helping hands reaching out to neighbors in need in amazing ways. From chopping and delivering firewood to help families stay warm during day-long outages, a man who lent his own generator to a family who needed power for an oxygen machine, we have heard so many wonderful stories. It was freeeezing cold, but our hearts were warm.
Daniel Bowyer and his crew chopped firewood for others for days on end.
“While people were here loading up their own wood, they would help others load up their wood as well!” said Mrs. Angela Bowyer, proud of her husband’s kind and giving heart during this time of great need. “It was very much community helping community! Devine pulled together! We had others picking up wood to deliver to elderly or other people in need. Meanwhile, in our home we offered warm showers and a warm home to 14+ families. All the glory goes to our beloved God for blessing our family with the means to be able to help others. God has given to us to give to others. We couldn’t just sit warm, happy and comfortable while others suffer around us.”
On Wednesday, the community saw Billy Bob’s Hamburgers open their doors to feed the hungry. They served around 1,000 plates to families in need! The line which wrapped around their building and all the way down to the Walmart parking lot showed the great need that existed, as many families went without power or running water for days….3 to 4 days.
“It all started when I stopped by the restaurant and I noticed that the pilot light was on, on the gas stove,” said Bonnie Manning, whose fiancé owns Billy Bob’s Hamburgers. “I had been seeing people going through some pretty hard stuff, so I called Chris, and we just decided we wanted to do this for the community, once we knew that we could. So many volunteers came out to help us serve and deliver meals to the homebound. Some families told us they hadn’t really eaten in days. When you hear something like that, you know you are doing the right thing. It’s a good feeling. We served meals until we ran out.”
On Sunday, Feb. 21 the Knights of Columbus gave away over 700 fish plates with french fries and water to anyone who was hungry. They set up a drive-thru lane at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Devine and put out the word. They had a planned fish fry set up for a couple of days earlier, but instead of charging they gave them away to help everyone they could with a nice hot meal.
In perhaps what could be seen as one of the ultimate acts of kindness, one local man lent his generator to a family in need so they wouldn’t freeze during the widespread power outages. There are a lot of recovered Covid patients in our community and everywhere right now, and Lupe Silva of Devine, was one of them. Her family will forever be grateful for one man’s act of kindness. “I want to say thank you to David Yarbro for lending us a generator to supply electricity to run the oxygen machine for my wife Lupe. A complete stranger. I would have probably had to put her back in the hospital if it wasn’t for him. I thank God and David for helping us in this time of need. Also Kelly DuBose for getting us in contact with him.”
On Friday around noon, The City of Devine acquired and unloaded three pallets of water and began handing out water bottles a few at a time due to huge number of residents without water later that afternoon around 3:30. They ran out quickly, so we began searching for more.
Many had been recycling snow to use for various purposes.
Medina Electric Cooperative came through in a big way the next day to offer pallets of water when bottled water was nowhere else to be found. My mother, KK Calame, and four NHS students with trucks picked it up from Hondo, and a huge slew of awesome volunteers handed it out to community members in drive-thru fashion. Over a 100 cases of water were handed out in a few short minutes outside of The Devine News, as well as some sent to Lytle and Natalia. After seeing the need that existed, she and her friends and other business leaders, and the chamber, worked tirelessly for hours and days to locate several more pallets of bottled water to be distributed in the community through the schools, fire department, and local Cities. Doug Trott and Jack Trogden made trip after trip to SA to pick them up. Local woman Maria Rodriguez was able to secure pallets of water at a crucial time, when water was very, very hard to find. Band boosters, Devine golf course, businesses, and others all looked around and brought down more cases of bottled water to the news office to help. It was fantastic the way everyone wanted to help. “I am surrounded by great people and grateful to all who helped make things happen quickly. Until the water was safe to drink again, everyone was in need,” said Calame. “People are good.”

Some of Daniel Bowyer’s crew from Bowyer’s Tree Service helped load people up with free firewood for three days straight, including George Caballero, Nathan Nentwich, James Freeman, Jordan Freeman, and Sage Cruz.
Medina Electric Co-Op answered the News’ plea for help with bottled water. Volunteers were quick to show up and help load cases of water into cars.
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Grace Bible Church in Lytle and the Lytle Chamber also handed out lots of water. Volunteers at the City of Natalia also handed water out, including Mireya Vanderslice, who helped organize hot meals to be distributed for some 200 people this past week. The Natalia Volunteer Fire Dept handed out 40 big boxes of food and milk to those in need. Safety officer Mike Walker and the Devine Volunteer Fire Department also made trips to SA to pick up large pallets of water for our community when they became available. Cindi Billebault from the Devine Salvation Army Branch delivered a heater to a family of 6 who ran out of propane, traveling through the ice in the middle of the night to help. The Salvation Army also handed out water this week as soon as they could find it. These are just a few of the many examples of people helping people this past week.
Many, many pallets of bottled water and Meals Ready to Eat were handed out at Devine City Hall starting around 300 pm today Tuesday, Feb. 23.
The Boil Water notice was lifted in the community of Devine as of this Tuesday, as well as most other local communities, except Benton City Water. However, many residents in the area are still without water due to busted pipes. Thank you Medina County, Medina Electric, AEP, Maria Rodriguez, Food Pantry among other contributors. Thanks city staff, city leaders, and volunteers for teaming up.
The following are a few of the many stories of kindness that went around our community.
Stephanie Lerner Crossland gave a big shout to “Chuck Rogers and Eliseo Lara helping fix our busted water line while my hubby was a work for the City of Devine.”
Jamie Morris stated – “I had the pleasure of meeting Christie Hudson and her boyfriend Ben back in November when they so graciously donated several teddy bears to our Hank Homes. In early December Christie contacted me asking if I knew of a family they could adopt for Christmas. I had just been informed a week prior of a family in need of assistance. They had a young boy who was not going to be having a Christmas. I contacted the family asking permission to place them in contact with one another. Christie and Ben supplied not only Christmas for the child but the family of three. Plus Christmas Dinner. They took no credit for any of it they want the young boy to be grateful to his parents.
This lovely couples’ generosity didn’t stop in the gifting season it rolled right over into 2021. Ben had to work in Arizona during this storm. Christie and Ben worried about everyone back home in Devine. They donated the wood they had cut up already to keep families warm. They also donated food to feed several families! They didn’t want food to go bad with the outage so they had a mutual friend clean out the freezer and fridge to help others out. This couple is angels sent from the Good Lord Above to many anonymous families. Blessing beyond blessing even miles away!”
Rosa Rivera – “I would like to thank Amber and Brandon Stricker for providing us with warm food and water these five days we were without. Not only did they feed us but others as well. And would check on us daily to make sure we weren’t without a meal or water. My family will always be grateful to have them in our lives.”
Kelly Hellums Runyan – “Thank you Angela and Daniel Bowyer for supplying wood for our fireplace and allowing us to use their shower. Thank you to Brendan DuBose, Lewis Stroud, Marsha Stroud and Maryellen Fuller for supplying gas for a generator supplied by my brother Will Hellums so that my Mom’s oxygen machine worked. Thank you Judith Christy and Dale Williamson for allowing us to get water out of their pool since we didn’t have water. We are very grateful for all of you!! And most of all thank you God for watching over our family. My parents always taught me that there is always somebody worse off than you. We are very thankful for what we have and pray for the ones that suffered devastation during this time.”
People reaching out and helping others. There are story after story on our facebook as well as many others all across not only Devine, Natalia, Lytle, LaCoste but all over Medina and Atascosa County and the whole state of Texas!
Building relationships, and networking.
So proud of the good people of local cities Devine, Natalia, Lytle, Bigfoot, Moore, LaCoste, and all of Medina County for coming together. Many went to Castroville and Hondo for supplies and to sleep as well.
Helping hands…spreading kindness!
By Kayleen Holder