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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Volunteered at the Houston Food Bank While Raising Millions of Dollars for Texans in Need

The New York congresswoman packed disaster relief boxes while raising more than $5 million for Texas nonprofits via an online fundraiser

A woman in an orange vest stands in front of a large pile of boxes filled with food donations
Houston Food Bank volunteers distributing food and other essentials
Houston Food Bank/Facebook

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Representative from New York, joined Texas Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Sylvia Garcia this weekend for volunteer shifts at the Houston Food Bank in the wake of a massive winter storm that caused 1.4 million Houstonian to lose power and all of Harris County to be under a days-long boil water notice.

On Friday, AOC posted that she’s be flying to Houston to help distribute supplies and assess the severity of the situation, at the invitation of Rep. Garcia. By early Saturday morning, the trio was at the food bank along with several dozen volunteers, ready to pack disaster boxes.

“Charity isn’t a replacement for good governance,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Friday. “But we won’t turn away from helping people in need when things hit the fan. People understand that now is the time for collective action and doing what we can with whatever we’ve got.”

The move comes after AOC undertook a massive fundraising campaign that has collected at least $5 million in less than a week, to be evenly distributed between five Texas organizations — The Houston Food Bank, Feeding Texas, Family Eldercare, The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center and Ending Community Homeless Coalition (ECHO).

The Houston Food Bank — the largest in the nation— had been an essential lifeline for Houstonians following years of continual environmental disaster, including Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and the economic insecurity brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. In a press conference Saturday morning, Rep. Jackson-Lee acknowledged that those challenges disproportionally affect lower-income Houstonians and Texans of color, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“A lot of vulnerable people, essential workers, marginalized people, a lot of documented or undocumented, they are our residents, they are our brothers and sisters,” Jackson-Lee said. “We know so many of them suffered hardships even more than I imagined.”

Following the food bank shift, AOC and Garcia went to visit residents in Garcia’s district, which includes much of the eastern half of the city within the Beltway 8 loop, to assess the damage caused by the storm. Residents in those districts, and elsewhere in Houston, will like be in recovery mode for several weeks, if not months. AOC will continue to accept donations until the need has passed. Find the link to donate here.

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