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Pet food donations to benefit pantry

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Posted: Friday, January 4, 2019 8:17 am | Updated: 1:14 pm, Fri Jan 4, 2019.

Harold “Buzzie” Hughes has owned and operated one of the most beloved barbecue joints for people in the Hill Country since opening his first location in Comfort in 1993 — and now he’s set his sights on helping their animal friends as well.

Throughout the holidays, Hughes has been accepting donations of pet food to benefit Christian Assistance Ministry and is still accepting pet food donations at his barbecue restaurant on Schreiner Street, he said.

But that’s not the beginning or the end of Hughes’ service to the Kerrville community.

Just before Christmas, he also teamed up with other local business owners to offer a free holiday community luncheon to any locals who might need it, complete with savory offerings like venison and mashed potatoes.

In the past, Hughes also has been a community sponsor for Peterson Hospice’s program for bereaved children, “Bridging the Gap,” providing a free meal to kids in the program, according to Rhonda Richter, the hospice’s volunteer coordinator.

Hughes — who describes his restaurant as a “family-run, family oriented business” in which his wife, Brenda, and his son and daughter-in-law play a huge role — said he sees Kerrville as giving as much to him as he gives to Kerrville.

“It’s a one-hand-washing- the-other thing,” he said. “This community keeps me going, so I try to give back as well.”

In addition to donating food, he often sells food at cost to worthy community organizations and events, Hughes noted.

For example, he often gives free meals to firefighters and other public servants at city events, and at the end of February, he will donate his time and that of his employees to help serve at the Starkey Elementary sausage supper — a school fundraiser where he will feed close to 4,000 attendees with meat sold to the school district at cost.

The Parks and Recreation Department recently recognized Hughes and his restaurant at its Dec. 13, advisory board meeting for 10 years of sponsoring the local Daddy/Daughter Dance and for participating in the majority of the department’s events, according to Stuart Cunyus, public information officer for the city of Kerrville.

But Hughes is more than just a philanthropist — he is also a family man, enjoying spending time with his wife, son and three stepchildren, as well as his 11 grandchildren, Hughes said, adding with palpable excitement that he has one more grandchild on the way.

He owns a small ranchette in Center Point on 30 acres, where he raises hoofstock like elk and axis deer and likes to go as a pressure release to relax in the peace and quiet.

Hughes and his wife also enjoy fishing and spending time with friends, he said.

Hughes said his current project, collecting donated pet food for CAM, is a priority for him because he has five dogs whom he loves dearly.

Bill Johnson, one of CAM’s weekday coordinators, said that CAM is grateful for all donations from the community because the organization receives no government assistance.

“We depend upon the generosity of churches and civic organizations, and — not to be trite — but every little bit helps,” he said.

Johnson said that while pet food donations are intermittent and not always consistent, that clients at the food pantry often ask for pet food. If CAM has it in stock, the clients receive pet food in addition to their regular items.

“We absolutely love getting pet food donations,” Johnson said. “While our first priority is human beings, I have a dog myself and he’s part of my family, and if I were in need of assistance myself, I would certainly seek help for him, too.”

Johnson said that the organization is always thankful for any pet food donations the community is able to give in addition to regular donations.

“We rely entirely on the generosity of our community, and our community has been very, very generous, and we are certainly appreciative of it,” Johnson said.

In Hughes’ case, his commitment to serving the Kerrville community has resulted in reciprocal love and loyalty from his customer base.

“On a good day, we see a couple hundred people come through our doors,” Hughes said.

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