HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The holidays can be a tough time for families in the Greater Houston area who are struggling to make ends meet. Some have to choose between feeding their children or paying rent, but every year, ABC13 partners with the Houston Food Bank to make sure no one has to go hungry during the holiday season.
For our Share Your Holidays food drive on Giving Tuesday, a beneficiary is sharing her story of what prompted her to reach out for help, with the hope of encouraging others in similar situations to do the same.
RELATED: ABC13'S Share Your Holidays 2022
Stephanie Chavez remembers her parents doing everything they could to provide for her and her brother when they were growing up. Her parents immigrated from El Salvador and moved to Houston when Chavez was 5 years old.
"Being immigrants, I think it's very common in our culture for people to be afraid of asking for help. For some, it's about their immigration status," she said. "We survived on WIC, tortillas, eggs, and cheese when my mom would look for help every now and then. But, it wasn't a common thing. We wouldn't do it all the time."
Now with a family of her own, Chavez and her husband want nothing but to give their three children what they need to thrive and succeed. That dream didn't come without its own challenges.
Chavez said money became tight about six years ago while her husband pursued his U.S. citizenship. They had to cut back on their expenses to make ends meet. Her family stopped going out to eat, made more homecooked meals, and bought generic brands at the grocery store.
However, it still wasn't enough.
Chavez was concerned about where their next meal would come from. She knew about the resources offered at the Houston Food Bank, but it took her a while before she finally reached out for help.
"It came to a point where it was between my embarrassment or my kids," said Chavez. "It was really scary and nerve-racking, but I was relieved that there was a place to help people like us in struggling times."
She said her family is doing better now, partly due to the assistance they've received from the food bank. Over the years, Chavez's family has benefitted from the organization's milk program, food pantry, and Backpack Buddy program.
Now, she's sharing her experience with the understanding that we all need a little boost at some point in our lives and hopes to encourage others to overcome the stigma of asking for help.
"I feel very grateful. Not once did I feel judged or looked down upon. They always greet you with a smile and they're so welcoming," she said. "They won't ask you anything. You won't have to submit your proof of income or any other documents. It's a relief that you can just stop by anytime and get food for your family."
Help us fight hunger this holiday season. You can donate on Nov. 29 by bringing non-perishable food items to a collection site listed on the ABC13 website. You can view a list of the most needed items.
You can also text "SYH2022" to 71777 to donate through your mobile phone or make a contribution via the Houston Food Bank website. The Live Drive will be hosted at the Houston Food Bank at 535 Portwall St. on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information about ABC13's Share Your Holidays with the Houston Food Bank, CITGO, and Greater Houston Honda Dealers, visit the ABC13 website.