Gift card drive helps Horseshoe Bay first responders, restaurants

Horseshoe Bay City Hall

For years, Horseshoe Bay residents have added to the holiday cheer of its community’s City Hall employees and first responders by giving them gift cards from local restaurants.

But the COVID-19 pandemic propelled residents Andy and Elsie Thurman and Dick Nelson to activate the Christmas drive in April.

“We’re trying to make sure we support the merchants in this area,” Nelson said. “They’re needed every day.”

The money will be used to buy gift cards from locally owned restaurants. Elsie Thurman noted that when residents talk about wanting more businesses, top of the list is restaurants.

“So we need to support the ones we got,” she said. “Those people are still there. They need to survive. It’s a win-win.”

“It’s from the merchants who’ve taken care of us,” Nelson said. “And it’s for the roughly 100 city employees and first responders who take care of us every day.”

People interested in helping purchase the gift cards can make donations through an account set up at Bancorp South, 9650 FM 2147 in Horseshoe Bay. Checks should be made out to Dick Nelson. Donors should write “Horseshoe Bay First Responder Donation” on the envelope and memo line.

The drive wraps up Wednesday, April 15. The next day, organizers will purchase gift cards to give to Horseshoe Bay Police Chief Rocky Wardlow, who will distribute them.

About 260 emails were sent to Horseshoe Bay friends and neighbors.

“Whenever we have a drive like this, it’s our go-to list,” Nelson said. “And the community steps up. It’s such a wonderful place to be. Everyone is concerned, and they become part of what the needs are.”

Thurman said about the only time in her life she can compare this pandemic to was during the polio years when scientists and doctors were trying to find a vaccine.

“For years, my mother didn’t let us go to the public pool,” she said. “It was scary.”

Horseshoe Bay resident Joe Tiziani started the Christmas gift card drive about two decades ago, and it has endured over time, Thurman said.

“I think it’s a great program,” she said. “It’s a way for people in Horseshoe Bay to tell first responders we really appreciate them. They are professional and supportive of the city.”

Nelson and Thurman see this drive as a win-win on two fronts: for the first responders and the local restaurants.

“We have to take care of these people,” Nelson said.

“Everyone is thinking of the blessings we have,” Thurman added. “I think we’ll be able to give people nice gift certificates. I think of myself as being blessed to have the opportunity to do something for someone who deserves it.”

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the coronavirus resources webpage.

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