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Central Texans volunteer for lunch duty while guard troops vaccinate local residents

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 3:26 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Texas Army National Guard soldiers have been in Waco since early April helping administer COVID-19 vaccines through the McLennan County Public Health District, and they’re staying fed thanks to the generosity of Central Texans.

Cathy Restivo, the owner of the Salty Dog Sports Bar and Grill and A-1 Fire and Security, learned from her daughter, who works for the public health district, that the soldiers were leaving to buy their own lunches each day.

So, she decided to send a taco bar one day and chicken sandwiches on another from Salty Dog and challenged others to help, too.

“I have a challenge for anyone willing to accept,” Cathy posted.

“The National Guard are in town until the end of May helping with vaccinations at the convention center. They are all in from out of town, staying at a hotel away from their families. Who is willing to take lunch, (or a) snack for them during their breaks?”

Who, indeed?

The response was overwhelming.

The Junior League of Waco donated water, chips, and snacks.

Olive Branch contributed meals.

Becky Murphy with Waco Association of Realtors donated two lunches.

Plenty of individuals stepped up, too.

Trey Sherwitz with First Title donated pizza.

So did Rachelle Kemp.

Kathleen Kazda sent a meal.

Rusty and Carolyn Haferkamp delivered “Salty Ball Salads.’

Sherri Johnson McDonald with Johnson Roofing donated three lunches and goodie bags.

She says it’s the least they could do for those doing so much for the community.

“We’re blessed that we were able to provide some lunches for these folks and to welcome them to Waco and show them our hospitality here. We just are grateful for all they do for us,” she said.

“We’ve long been participants in supporting our military and our first responders and will continue to do so.”

Kim Klaras with Klaras Cuisine dropped off chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches on croissants along with fresh fruit, chips, and chocolate chip cookies from her business.

She said stepping up to support the soldiers was personal to her.

“Our son-in-law is a firefighter in Kyle, and he was sent to El Paso to administer vaccinations as well and I wanted to pay it forward to provide a meal to the troops while they were here to welcome them to Waco and also make them feel closer to home,” Klaras said.

The soldiers worked at the Waco Convention Center until this week when they moved to Waco ISD stadium.

“The guard has relieved our staff to take care of other duties,” Waco McLennan County Public Health District spokeswoman Kelly Craine said.

The soldiers will leave Waco at the end of the week, but thanks to the big hearts of those who answered Restivo’s call, their meals are covered.

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