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TAMU organization helps feed 'Invisible Aggies'

"If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have a functioning community.”

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — There really isn't anyone that hasn't been affected by COVID-19 in some way. 

At A&M, a group that's been around for a few years is reaching out to help "Invisible Aggies" in need.

“I think a beautiful thing would be the appreciation for the essential worker... and be able to value them in the way they deserve once this all comes and goes,” said Max Gerall, Founder of the Reach Project.

He started the organization as a freshmen at A&M. 

“Like many other freshmen, I spent way too much time at sabisa dining hall and I became really good friends with the front desk cashier, Ms. Melissa. She's, I like to say the beacon of light that led me through my undergraduate experience,” he said.  

From friendly morning greetings to deeper conversations grew a friendship and to Gerall, a better understanding of the world around him. 

“Ms. Melissa actually told me that ms Hernandez, the lady that does the omelet line at Sbisa was actually homeless. That blew my mind. I didn’t understand who someone who takes care of so many students on a daily basis didn’t have anyone looking after her.” 

Max then spent the 18 months doing research, meeting food service, custodial and maintenance employees at A&M, and in learning about their lives, his process turned into the reach project. 

He said, “our focus is normally on affordable housing, supportive social services and education opportunities but with the pandemic I knew something had to be done to support the invisible Aggies.”

For the past few weeks, the reach project is partnering with local catering companies to set up a bi weekly food drive through at Kyle Field, giving family meal packs to employees in need.

“It’s been amazing. We have students ...we have even support staff that we’re serving coming and volunteering... currently 150 families that we serve. And we have an unfortunate to say, a waiting list that’s grown daily of about 240 families that would like to be served,” Gerall said.

He is hoping the Reach Project can get more financial support to help those families because if there’s anything this crisis has reminded him and others to do, it’s support everyone on the front lines. 

“This is a great way to open our eyes to individuals who do so much for us on a daily basis. If we could all appreciate not only the firemen and the nurses and the doctors, but also the custodians and the food service employees and the maintenance men. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have a functioning community.”

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