Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
From left, Madera Martial Arts owner Chris Arias and his wife Annalicia, and CrossFit Madera and Miracle Realty owner Beau Miracle stand in front of Grocery Outlet where they are helping families in need. Arias, Miracle and the owners of Grocery Outlet, Sean and Tiffany Tharp, have helped more than 50 families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What started as an idea blossomed into a donation drive that has fed more than 50 Madera families and has raised more than $7,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crossfit Madera and Miracle Realty owner Beau Miracle, alongside Madera Martial Arts owner Chris Arias, teamed with Grocery Outlet owners Tiffany and Sean Tharp to provide needy families food during this stressful time called the Madera COVID-19 Hunger Relief Fund.
“We got together, me and Beau Miracle, with the owners of Grocery Outlet,” Arias said. “What we wanted to do, initially, was each of us contribute money. We went online and asked people to donate. It just snowballed. We’re up to $7,000 in donations. We ask the public of names and phone numbers of families affected by COVID-19. My wife contacts the families. They go down to Grocery Outlet to pick up groceries depending on their family size.”
“Originally, I wanted to do something to give back,” Miracle said. “I felt like there were a lot of people in need. We’re all going through some hardship. Myself and Chris Arias were impacted with the gyms shut down. I knew with the hard times, it was a pertinent time for the community to come together. I put a Facebook Live out a couple of days before Chris and I got together reaching out to the community. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I wanted to do something. I didn’t want to just donate money and throw some funds at a charity. I wanted to affect our community, somehow.”
Before Miracle and Arias had even thought of a plan, they had a meeting with the Tharps and they were immediately on board.
“They were really open arms to the fact of us putting something together,” Miracle said. “It wasn’t organized. It wasn’t even a broad plan. It was just we were donating money and they were donating money. I said to do a Facebook Live to get some people to nominate names. Next thing I know, people were donating money and giving us names. We put together a GoFundMe. Chris and Annalicia have been doing the administration part. I have been gathering names daily and sending them to Chris. They created a voucher and send it over to Grocery Outlet.”
Arias said, basically, a family of four will get a little over $100 worth of food, enough to last more than a week.
“It’s already pre-packaged,” Arias said. “We didn’t want people to go and just buy whatever they wanted. We tell Grocery Outlet the family name and size of the family. They put the boxes ready for them. All the family does is show up, show and ID and walk out with the groceries. It’s a lot of stuff. They are getting fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs and dry goods. It’s a lot of food.”
Although the families are kept private, Arias had heard of some of the reactions of the recipients of the food.
“We had a family with 11 get their groceries,” he said. “Their dad was amazed by what they got. There are some pretty touching stories out there. A handful of families we got were from the swap meet. I think we’ve helped four or five families from there.”
Arias has also started a GoFundMe page (Madera Covid-19 Hunger Relief Fund) to gather donations to keep feeding families. The page has raised more than $2,500.
“People we know have dropped off checks with us or have taken them to Grocery Outlet,” he said. “I didn’t even think about it being this big. We started with $1,100 went to $7,000 and see how many families we can help. It’s amazing. It’s really humbling just the way the community came together within a week.”
“It’s been a humbling experience for it to come together,” Miracle said. “We didn’t have a thought out plan. It kind of came together with a master of the minds. People have been nominating families. The goal was to feed families. There’s a lot going on right now with people losing their jobs. I’m very grateful to be a part of it, thus far.”
Arias said that the easiest way to donate is to drop off their donation at Grocery Outlet.
“I called Grocery Outlet because I felt like it was the only grocery store we could partner up with in town,” Arias said. “They jumped on board right away. They matched what me and Beau contributed. We have our own little system going on.”