BY AUSTIN RUFF
The Fort Hays Wellness Center is collecting items to be sent to Texas to help those affected by the devastating polar vortex that crippled much of the southern state last month. Millions were left without electricity, water or heat as temperatures dipped to historic lows in much of the state. Snow could be seen lining the beaches of the Gulf near Galveston, as Texans struggled to come to grips with the unprecedented cold snap.
Kegan Knight, a second-year assistant athletic director in the Fort Hays Athletics Office, and his wife, Alicia, began to hear from family and friends in the Houston and Fort Worth areas, where they learned the severity of the situation.
“We just couldn’t believe what was happening,” Knight said, “We felt we had to do something.”
This prompted the two to look into ways to help Texans affected by the polar vortex. Knight brought the idea to the Wellness Center, where the drive was put together. Kight also gave primary credit to his wife, who he said initially came up with the idea.
The Wellness Center has undertaken similar activities in the past, putting on food drives during the historic Nebraska flooding in 2019, when an entire U-Haul-full of food was collected and taken to our northern neighbors.
Due to the lack of electricity, millions of people were unable to cook or obtain clean drinking water, with numerous counties being placed under boil advisories. Because of this, it is encouraged that people donate non-perishable food items, water, cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, or anything that could be of use to those struggling in Texas.
Cash donations are also being accepted. All money received will go to help Texans struggling to pay their utility bills amid enormous hikes in energy prices throughout much of the state. The crisis has caused Texas’ oldest power cooperative, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, to file for bankruptcy protection.
Donations will be accepted on Wednesday, March 3, at Gross Memorial Coliseum at 6:00 p.m.
Items will be collected at each entry gate in the foyer. Drop-off locations also include Messiah Lutheran Church, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, O’Loughlin Elementary School, and the Wellness Center on campus.
The items will be collected and sent to Carrollton, Texas, where they will be received by the Northside Baptist Church, and distributed to those in need.
“I’m hoping we need a semi-truck to haul it all down there,” Knight said. He was optimistic about the drive’s prospects and looked forward to seeing people turn out to donate.