• Baylor BearAid team serves hundreds of Austinites after recent ice storm

    Baylor student volunteers prepare meals as part of BearAid

    When frigid temperatures and ice storms struck Texas earlier this month, Waco escaped mostly unscathed — but some of our neighbors were not so fortunate. Over 100,000 households in Austin were without power for days due to the storm.

    When Baylor junior Nolan Screen received a call from a colleague who works in Austin’s Office of Emergency Management, he knew BearAid — an arm of Baylor Missions & Public Life — might be able to help. Working on short notice, the team was able to pull together a fully equipped trailer in about 36 hours.

    “We made a Sam’s run on Friday, Feb. 3, in the afternoon, loaded the trailer, organized all the food, and then myself, three students and one volunteer left at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning,” BearAid Team Leader Polly Flippin says.

    The group met up with Central Texas Food Pantry in central East Austin, where they prepared and served cheeseburgers, baked beans, potato salad and cookies to Austinites in need.

    “We served 200 people, and probably could have easily given out 500 if we would’ve had the capacity to do them that fast,” says Flippin.

    Later that afternoon, the group headed to a station where they served another 200 people, all first responders. Before heading back to Waco, the BearAid Team left behind water, Gatorade and a few dozen homeless kits (filled with hygiene items, socks, gloves and non-perishable food items). The group returned to Waco by 11 p.m. that evening.

    Baylor’s BearAid Team — made up of about 15-20 student volunteers — exists to serve when disasters strike, working to aid communities throughout the relief and recovery process. Team members constantly keep their ears to the ground when storms hit to see how they might be able to help. On a day to day basis, they partner with groups on Baylor’s campus like The Store to help make sure students who face food insecurity have resources.

    “I hope that it’s transformational for students,” Flippin says. “And that it leads to not just participating in service while they’re on Baylor’s campus, but a lifelong commitment to service.”

    Sic ’em, Baylor volunteers!

    [Students interested in joining the BearAid team can email Flippin at Polly_Flippin@baylor.edu.]