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Stronger Together: How Hays County is supporting Uvalde

By Brittany Anderson

BUDA — From one tight-knit community to another, Hays County residents have found themselves asking how they can help Uvalde in the wake of the tragedy at Robb Elementary School last month. 

Photo by Kimberly Fannin.

Although words will never be enough to heal their residents, many in Hays County have felt called to support them in any way they can. 

Johnny G’s Barbershop in Buda held a fundraiser on June 5 in downtown Buda in support of Uvalde, with 100% of the funds raised going directly to the victims and their families. Capitol City Barbershop and Skinny’s Barbershop, both located in Austin, were also there to support. 

Area barbers, from left, Simon of Capitol City; Matthew of Skinny’s; Oscar Garza, owner of Capitol City; Johnny and Kiyita Garza, owners of Johnny G’s; Brian of Johnny G’s; and Jacob of Johnny G’s gathered Sunday to raise funds for Uvalde. Photo by Kimberly Fannin.

Greg Adams receives a haircut from Capitol City Barbershop barber Matthew Cervantes. Photo by Kimberly Fannin.

“I saw the craziness on TV — we all have kids and family, and it touched us,” owner Johnny Garza said. “Me and my barbers talked and said we’re going to make it happen … We all felt it. My heart was hurting, I wasn’t the only one feeling like that. We talk to mothers and fathers on the daily. We felt like something had to be done.” 

Garza said the event came together in a matter of days, during which barbers from the three shops cut hair for donations. There was also a bounce house, dunk tank and snacks like cotton candy, popcorn and slushes provided by Party Animals in Buda. 

There were also a variety of raffles, plus the ability to make donations through Venmo. Riding club Grim Guardians were also matching donations. So far, over $8,000 has been raised, and donations are still coming in. 

Grim Guardians riding club. Photo by Kimberly Fannin.

Garza said that support from the community, including from members like Freddy Erdman, Buda Police Department’s Community Affairs Officer, helped provide resources and pull the event together in such a short time. 

Photo by Kimberly Fannin.

“There’s a lot of ‘what ifs’ running through our minds and hearts. What if it was my kid? What if it was this?” Garza said. “At the end of the day, this is what it’s all about: helping families that went through all of this madness.”  

Just a few miles away, a Kyle resident has also felt compelled to help the Uvalde community by providing items to help them get through their day-to-day life. 

Sandy Fleming, left, with Tri-County CASA volunteer coordinator Mona Southward, right, during a supply run in Uvalde. Photo courtesy of Sandy Fleming.

Sandy Fleming has helped collect donations for Uvalde and made the two-and-a-half hour drive to deliver items that, in her view, will help residents not feel so overwhelmed. 

Fleming has collected items such as toilet paper, paper towels, pastries, packaged snacks, water, ice chests and entertainment for surviving kids to play with in between counseling sessions such as coloring books, crayons, word puzzle books, balls and Frisbees. 

Although Fleming has already made one supply run to Uvalde, she is planning on going as often as she can, saying that making the trip is “meaningful in its own way” and said she has seen first-hand the toll the tragedy has taken on its residents. 

So far, she has delivered items to Bluebonnet Children’s Advocacy Center/Tri-County CASA and Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, working closely with representatives from both. 

Fleming said that it isn’t just about her or her contribution, it’s the city of Kyle as a whole, saying that Kyle is behind Uvalde. 

“My mission is to make sure they know that God is still with them,” Fleming said during a vigil held in Kyle for Uvalde on May 29. “Even though there has been a tragedy, there is purpose. Do not give up on God … I prayed and asked God where I need to be. And this is where I needed to be.” 

The Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch will provide an update on these efforts and other efforts in the community, as well as more information on how to donate to Uvalde or volunteer. 

About Author

Brittany Anderson graduated from Texas State University in August 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She previously worked at KTSW 89.9, Texas State University's radio station, for nearly two years in the web content department as a writer and assistant manager. She has reported for the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch since July 2021.

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