COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Giving back to those around him is something Max Gerall has held in his heart for a long time.
“I knew as an Aggie I had to do something," said Gerall, the founder of the REACH Project. "I had to jump into action because that’s just who we are in Aggieland.”
The REACH Project is a non-profit that aims to serve Texas A&M University's overlooked contract service employees, or known as the Invisible Aggies. He attributes these staff members for showing him compassion and helping him get through school.
“Having someone who was a stranger look after me since day one was really inspiring," Gerall said.
These relationships turned into friendships. From there, Gerall was introduced to more Invisible Aggies and heard stories of what types of struggles they go through daily.
“I heard some pretty alarming things," Gerall said.
Hearing those hardships and having a desire to do something about it is what brings Gerall to today. He continues to make a difference in Invisible Aggies' lives by putting on food distributions, helping with unemployment paperwork and more.
“I see a problem and I’m just trying to do what is right," Gerall said.
The REACH Project found out the Brazos Valley Food Bank would not be open Christmas week. They knew they had to do something.
“We started calling anyone in the community that would give us the time of day," Gerall said.
The REACH Project teamed up with Brookshire Brothers and Ruffino Meats to distribute 200 turkeys, sausages and other side dishes to Invisible Aggies Monday. They also were given food from Equipping Center and Texas A&M University farms.
“Beyond blessed," said Joe Ann Manuel, a dining service employee at Texas A&M. "I am so blessed to be here and it’s a great job what they’re doing."
Besides being able to give some relief during a struggling time, Gerall loves to make connections with the Invisible Aggies he meets everyday.
“The stories that I hear are so touching and so real," Gerall said. "I think the relationship to be told those stories and be let in on those personal journeys are really inspiring.”
Those who come through the line and to the events love Gerall too.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve and he doesn’t hide anything," said Lashawn Druery, a dining service employee. "He’s great.”
Gerall believes the small act of just asking someone how they are matters. He encourages everyone to try it.
“Showing your neighbor, community member, your coworker that you care, you’re the same and be human [with] them I think goes a long way," Gerall said.