Operation Liberty Hill seeks boost from Day of Giving

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By ANTHONY FLORES

Operation Liberty Hill is one of the most well-known organizations in Liberty Hill. The charity helps those in need through its thrift store and food pantry.

Executive Director Susan Baker may have retired, but she knew there would be another chapter in her career.

“I retired from the City of Austin human resources and didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said. “I thought I would probably put all my photos in photo albums and clean out my closets and plant a garden, but that only took six months.”

While attending church, Baker couldn’t help but notice people that didn’t have rides to the doctor or grocery store. She took it upon herself to provide rides and, at one point, was doing it almost 40 hours a week.

“I noticed we had to go from a food pantry to a clothes closet, maybe health and human services and another place to apply for food stamps. I thought it was just crazy,” Baker said. “Shortly after, I started volunteering at the local food bank. Before long, the woman running the pantry sent me an e-mail and asked me to pray that someone could take over the pantry. So, Karen and I did that and turned it into Operation Liberty Hill just a couple of weeks later.”

The doors to the food pantry opened in 2012, and the charity has only grown since then, adding a thrift store in 2015.

“We went from an 800-square-foot house handing out food three times a week to an 8,000-square-foot facility now,” said Baker. “We’re already busting at the seams now.”

For the 2020 Day of Giving, the food pantry’s goal is to raise $8,000 for its Summer Snack program and the Laces for Liberty Hill program. The Summer Snack program aims to help children who may not have meals available outside of school during the summer.

“This year, the money is going to our summer snack program since there isn’t a summer lunch program in the district,” said Baker. “We also do Laces for Liberty Hill, which provides athletic shoes for kids who need them. Anything we don’t spend on snacks goes to that.”

Operation Liberty Hill is familiar with the Day of Giving and has seen higher donations because of their involvement in the past.

“The Day of Giving gives us a lot more visibility,” said Baker. “Many of the people who donate during the Day of Giving end up donating more during the year.”

Citizens in the community and surrounding areas can donate money or food items the organization is looking for to include in the healthy snack packs.

“We’re going to provide a complete list of foods we put into the healthy snack packs, and people can donate specific items if they want to help that way,” said Baker. “Our goal is to make sure every child has a meal during the summer months.”

Operation Liberty Hill needs the community during the Day of Giving more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the temporary shutdown of the thrift store, the primary source of funding for the services OLH offers and created an increased need for help around the area.

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