LUBBOCK, TX — On the first Thanksgiving during the pandemic, charities and organizations across Lubbock passed out turkey dinners to those out of work and without a hot holiday meal. But one unexpected place also stepped up to give back to the community,
Cat Daddy’s Bait and Tackle Shop is a new fishing supply shop in town — so new it opened just nine days ago. All day Thursday, the store’s owner, Robert Varela, and some volunteers passed out more than a dozen homemade turkey dinners, ham and the fixings to the homeless and hungry families.
Varela said there was no better way for the shop to ring in its first Thanksgiving in business than by paying it forward to neighbors in need.
“Not everybody is able to have something that others have, and if you can pass it down or do something good for somebody else that needs it, it means a lot. It gives people hope, it gives them faith, and that’s something that the world needs at this very moment,” Varela said.
The feast was organized by Varela’s friend John Easttom, who said it took them about 24 hours to cook and gather the food. The people that stopped by for a bite said that not only was the free meal tasty, but it also made their day.
“I was just passing by, and they offered me some food and it was great … I’m thankful for everything,” Joe Micolites said of his turkey dinner.
But for Easttom, their Thanksgiving mission was also something personal.
“I came from a lower income family, and there was a time in my life where I was out on the streets and just the simple gesture of somebody saying ‘Hey are you hungry?’ and … my eyes lit up. I finally got my life together, and my grandmother, she was a Sunday school teacher, and she did the same thing every year,” Easttom said.
It was a way for him to carry on a family legacy as he paid it forward and paid it back to those who once helped him.
“It reminds me that no matter where we’re at, what we’re going through, we can still pull together as a community or as friends or as family and move past whatever we’re going through,” Easttom said.