Joe Don and I were married a decade before our first daughter was born.

In those ten years before her arrival we were young and happy, finishing school and establishing careers.  He was the boy that made me laugh like no other, entertained me, protected me, encouraged me, loved me. And I loved him with a certainty that we were as MFEO as Tom and Meg (Sleepless or Mail, either one, you choose babe).

All that love I had for Joe Don before our daughter was like topsoil: rich and fertile, ripe for cultivation.

But then our Sophie was born and I watched him hold her, laugh with her, entertain her, protect her, encourage her, love her with selflessness and grace—and I realized my love for that man had reached bedrock.

Do you know what I mean?

I hope so, because the way a love can change when it witnesses selfless concern for another is you and me, neighbor.

Growing up here, I had a default kind of love for our people and the community that raised and nurtured me.  Sometimes I’ve taken ‘here’ for granted and done things like move away to finish college, where I discovered that ‘away’ can be many good and exciting, rich and fertile things, but it wasn’t where I wanted to cultivate a home.

With maturity, though, vision improves (readers-atop-my-nose notwithstanding) and love sees more clearly.

In recent years I’ve watched you move in selflessness and grace for unnamed, vulnerable children throughout our county.

For two years, I’ve been privileged to chair Backpack Buddies of Erath County, the all-volunteer, nonprofit providing packages of weekend food to local school children at risk of weekend hunger. 

The mission is simple: feed hungry children. This week, that mission served 285 kids throughout all our county ISDs.

This week, 285 local children have weekend food because:   you, Erath.

Because you came out to the City Park last month for our hamburger lunch fundraiser.

Because you donated all the supplies for the hamburger lunch.

Because you pledged donations in a ‘MyBackpackBuddy’ peg game.

Because you passed the offering plate in your churches.

Because you donated $5 to feed a child for a weekend.

Because you donated $180 to feed a child for a school year. 

Because you raised awareness with your friends and coworkers and civic clubs.

Because: You.

The Backpack Buddies program will continue into the 2019-20 school year because of you. 

And just so you’re clear where we’re at in this relationship: I bedrock love you, Erath. 

*****

Special thanks to the 3rd Annual Burgers for Backpack Buddies partners:

Event Sponsors: Beans & Franks, Easter Heat & Air, First Financial Bank, FMC, Hard 8 BBQ, HEB, InterBank, Mayfield Paper, McLemore Financial, Purple Goat, Quality Printing, Schreiber Foods, Signs Express Plus, Slawson Law, Slawson Roofing, Sodexo, TSU College of Education, Texas Bank, and The Water Shop.

Peg Pledge Partners:  Stephenville Evening Lions, Barefoot Athletics, Prime Metal Building & Components, Timber Ridge Church, All Around Laundry, Allen Firm, Associated Well Service, Baskett Insurance, Core Contracting, Cowboy Country Title, Cross Timbers Orthopaedics, Cross Timbers Title, David & Paige Castleberry, Easter Heat & Air, Hayden Real Estate, Huckabee Inspection Group, JJ Hampton Real Estate, Kent & Julie Howell, King Abstract, Mangrum A/C, Matt Miller – Edward Jones, Mayor Doug Svien, McLemore Financial Group, Melissa Divin Consulting, Memorial:  Row Hampton, Paradise Pools, Pendleton Law, Pet Supplies Plus, Slawson Law, Slawson Roofing, SMSC, Southern Screen & Window, Southwest Advisory Group, Stacey James, StephenvilleForRent.com, Stephenville Optimist Club, Stidham Equine Sports Therapy, Studio 6:14 Dance, Texas Legacy Insurance, Texas Twisters, and VB Orthopaedics.

Shelby Slawson--attorney, business owner, and passionate community advocate--is a member of the E-T’s community columnists. She can be reached at shelby@slawsonlawfirm.com.