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Local Businesses Give Out Food and Water to Houstonians Under Winter Siege

Nakia and Lyndell Price pass out free water with their son in front of the restaurant, the Turkey Leg Hut.
Nakia and Lyndell Price pass out free water with their son in front of the restaurant, the Turkey Leg Hut. Photo by DeVaughn Douglas

Cars line up down the street in front of the Turkey Leg Hut as an officer directs traffic from Almeda onto Rosedale. Long lines running in front of the iconic Houston eatery are not out of the ordinary but the people idling in their cars are not here for the food. Groups of employees huddle in the cold and quickly load cases of water into passing vehicles. The business, birthed from the minds of Nakia and Lyndell Price, has expanded because of massive support from the community, and this week, with the city still reeling from the effects of a winter storm, they are continuing to give back.

The winter freeze left many Houstonians without power, water, and any faith in local and state officials. As residents scoured for food, gas, water, and other basic necessities local businesses stepped up to make sure needs were met. Mattress Mack opened his stores so people could warm up and charge their phones. Trae tha Truth and DJ Mr Rogers used their organization, Relief Gang, to get food and generators to houses and families in need. Even one of the newest Houston Rockets John Wall was purchasing food for locals looking for a meal. For these businesses and people with the means remaining on the sidelines and doing nothing was out of the question.

“I spoke to our people and I said let’s make it happen,” says Lyndell Price as he and his wife take a break from passing out water. “I was on the phone with our reps until two in the morning making sure they could find water for people. Yesterday we were serving free food almost all day.  The community needs it and the team just makes it all come together.”

He steps back and takes a look at the line of people being helped before cheerfully laughing to himself.

“We don’t plan anything. It can be something that’s crazy. It can be something I saw in a dream. I call our PR person and say let’s go.”

“My husband doesn’t plan anything,” Nakia Price agrees as she laughs along with him. “He gets an idea and sometimes I’m just sitting there wondering how it’s going to get done. That’s how we do things and its always worked for us. Today we are giving out water to the community. It’s not for purchase. If anyone is in need we're here for them and we’re giving it away.”

It wasn’t just the Turkey Leg making sure the community had water. AJ McQueen, a rapper and entrepreneur who founded Hydrate Hill, took his business mobile to make sure people didn’t go without water.

click to enlarge AJ McQueen and Lil HBK go door to door bringing water to those in need. - PHOTO BY DEVAUGHN DOUGLAS
AJ McQueen and Lil HBK go door to door bringing water to those in need.
Photo by DeVaughn Douglas
“I own Hydrate Hill. It’s a premium alkaline water company. Once everything happened, I couldn’t sit back knowing our city was going through something, so I went mobile. I’m out here door to door. People have donated but we're not charging anything right now. We just really want to help those people in need so I’m handing out product to anyone that needs it.”

His giving spirit was so infectious that another rapper saw what he was doing on Instagram and volunteered to help.

“I saw him on D Flowers' Instagram page, and I was just ecstatic about what he was doing,” says Lil HBK as he helps McQueen unload cases of water out the back of his car. “I want to step up in my community and he’s already doing it. I just wanted to help him and help the city because that’s what people need right now. Everybody is down and it’s our job to lift them up.”

“Yeah, while doing what I’m doing he reached out,” McQueen continues. “In our field a lot of people have egos and don’t want to really reach out and work with one another, but he kept telling me he wanted to help. I didn’t even know him until all this happened, but I have immediate respect for him and what he’s willing to do.”

Two strangers joining forces to make sure people were taken care of epitomizes the spirit of a lot of Houstonians. At the Domain Restaurant and Lounge on Westheimer two friends are also helping out and showing their humanitarian spirit. Wendell Debrain and Elmo Parker have been catering and providing brunch for the day drinking crowd and more for over five years. They set up at Domain to provide people with free plates of pasta and bowls of gumbo.

click to enlarge Wendell Debrain and Elmo Parker provide free plates of pasta and gumbo to hungry Houstonians. - PHOTO BY DEVAUGHN DOUGLAS
Wendell Debrain and Elmo Parker provide free plates of pasta and gumbo to hungry Houstonians.
Photo by DeVaughn Douglas
“We’re the Brunchaholics Anonymous, Parker explains. “We cater, event plan, throw pop up events, and offer private chef services. Because of everything we do we’re very active on social media and we kept seeing a lot of our friends and customers suffering and struggling. They come out and support us rain, sleet, or snow and spend their money. They support us week after week. We had to give that back. We had to support them like they support us.”

Debrain agrees as he stops and takes a break preparing large trays of pasta.

“People have been hitting us saying they need food. We just know the need out there at this moment so we just all came together. We’re just trying to do whatever we can to help.”

Whether it’s a family-owned restaurant, two strangers connected through music, or close friends bonded through their craft, Houston businesses really stepped up to helped provide for the community when it was most needed. It’s a spirit that looks to be carried well into the future. Back at the Turkey Leg Hut the Price’s son Bobby Taylor sums up what he’s learning by watching his parents help to meet the community’s needs.

“I’m just giving back to the city and helping my parents giving out water. Seeing them is motivational. Seeing all of this is motivational. They didn’t start out like this. They had to work their way up. The community helped them to get where they are today and now, we can give back to the community.
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Houston Press contributor DeVaughn Douglas is a freelance writer, blogger, and podcaster. He is 1/2 of the In My Humble Opinion Podcast and 1/1 of the Sleep and Procrastination Society. (That last one isn't a podcast; he just procrastinates and sleeps a lot.)