More than 48,000 children in North Texas will receive nutritious meals, thanks to a major expansion of the Tarrant Area Food Bank’s mobile pantry program.
At Texas Motor Speedway’s annual Christmas tree lighting Tuesday night, the food bank received a $150,000 Founder’s Grant to purchase a 53-foot refrigerated tractor-trailer. The truck will help provide meals across the food bank’s five-county region.
“This is such a phenomenal gift,” said Bo Soderbergh, executive director of the food bank. “One in four children in our community is at risk of going hungry. This gift will allow us to distribute fresh foods in communities where people are struggling with hunger and do not have ready access to fresh produce, dairy products and meats.”
Speedway Children’s Charities handed out more than $300,000 in grants Tuesday to North Texas charities that serve children, including the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth and Denton Kiwanis Children’s Clinic. Grants ranged from $4,000 to $150,000.
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Angie Gallaway, chief development officer for the Ronald McDonald House, said a $15,000 grant will allow the nonprofit to provide meals to children receiving pediatric care and their families.
“This is one way we relieve the burden of families staying with us,” Gallaway said. “We want them to have one less thing they worry about while they are focusing on their children’s health.”
Tuesday’s gifts brought the charity’s total donations since 1997 to more than $9.7 million, TMS President Eddie Gossage said.
The speedway also lighted a 61-foot Douglas fir, billed as the largest live Christmas tree in North Texas, a gift from Ben E. Keith Foods. Santa Claus, riding in the back of a refrigerated truck, appeared to help light the tree.
Entertainment also included carols sung by the Chisholm Trail Middle School Varsity Combined Choir.
After the tree lighting, 100 Fort Worth-area children representing FitWorth, Fire Station Community Center and Diamond Hill Elementary School received free bicycles and helmets. The early Christmas presents were made possible by Speedway Children’s Charities board members Chalmer and Karen McWilliams and George and Linda Campbell, who purchased and donated the bikes.
One recipient, 6-year-old Johnny Hill of Fort Worth, immediately hopped on his shiny new black and red bicycle. As he prepared to select a helmet, he said a new bicycle had been on his Christmas wish list.
“He was riding around on an old bike for 3- or 4-year-olds,” said his great-aunt Willa Morehouse. “So this is perfect.”