AUSTIN, Texas - About 30 people spent their first Thanksgiving at a state campground for the homeless in Austin. The governor and first lady of Texas stopped by to deliver food to those spending their holiday there.
For the past two weeks, Blake Moore has been working to make his section of the homeless campsite feel like home.
“Got the little hat rack. I can hang my hat up there,” Moore said.
He's not with the family he hoped to celebrate Thanksgiving with, but for him, it's a close second.
“We're family here. We all want to pull together,” said Moore.
On Thursday morning, an unexpected visitor surprised the cowboy and his neighbors with a Thanksgiving meal.
“This is far more than just providing a meal to somebody. It's also providing a sense of compassion, a sense of hope, a sense of conversation, just let people know that they are cared for and that's what we are delivering today,” said Gov. Greg Abbott.
“Got to shake his hand, ‘cause he's awesome. I never got to meet the governor, so it was kind of cool,” Moore said.
Abbott, who made the land for the campsite available to the homeless, said it's only one temporary part of the strategy to find housing options for those down on their luck.
ATX Helps, made up of community and business groups, will eventually build a pop-up shelter to serve as a more comprehensive facility, while the city purchases and renovates motels to house the homeless.
“As I've heard from the homeless out here themselves, they find this a far better, far safer environment than what they've had in the past,” said Abbott.
A few people at the campsite are concerned by the lack of shower facilities or free transportation options, as well as the presence of surveillance cameras.
Meanwhile, Blake is focused on ways to dig his way out of this rocky time in his life. The former landscaper wants to plant the seeds for a better future for himself and anyone else who finds themselves at the site.
“It's relaxing to get in there and till up the dirt, plant the flowers and see the afterwards and the beauty of it,” Moore said.
If he can find someone to donate seeds, he hopes by next Thanksgiving, the community garden will provide vegetables for their own holiday meal.