This food-focused holiday is among the few with roots in charitable service.

National Donut Day calligraphy lettering and doughnut isolated on white . Vector template for typography poster, banner, flyer, sticker, t-shirt, postcard, emblem design, etc.

Waco, TX  June 2, 2023  On the first Friday in June, Americans celebrate all the gooey goodness of donuts. But many don’t know that National Donut Day has its roots in doing good. This sweet tradition dates back to World War I, when nearly 250 Salvation Army volunteers known as “Donut Lassies” traveled overseas to provide emotional and spiritual support and fried confections, supplies, and other services to troops on the front lines.

The Donut Lassies fried donuts in small pans and are credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when troops returned home from war. The Salvation Army in Chicago celebrated the first National Donut Day in 1938 to help those in need during the Great Depression and commemorate the Donut Lassies’ work.

For over a century, the organization has provided a wide range of essential services like food, shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to the most vulnerable and to many of the men and women serving on the front lines of need.

“This National Donut Day, as citizens of Waco celebrate with a sweet treat, we are proud to remember that this fun tradition started with our volunteers over a hundred years ago,” said Major Jim Taylor. “If you ask me, knowing that the day has its roots in the fight for good makes those glazed pastries taste even sweeter.”

To honor the history of Donut Day, The Salvation Army of Waco will celebrate by spending the day dropping off donuts to First Responders who fight the battle here at home.  A “Donut Lassie” will be handing out donuts to over 100 veterans at the VA hospital.  Another “Donut Lassie” will be at the HEB on Valley Mills to greet and meet guests as we partner with them statewide to celebrate this day.  HEB donated a portion of the donuts for the day and will be giving back 2% of all donut sales for the week (not prepackaged boxes) to The Salvation Army Waco.  Shipley’s makes over 20 dozen donuts for delivery as well.  

The best way to participate with The Salvation Army Waco is by volunteering either at the Family Store or the Community Kitchen and during the Holidays when Bell Ringing Season is here.   Volunteer activities are posted at:  The Salvation Army Waco/McLennan County – Volunteer Console (  You can also support the Salvation Army financially by giving online at Donate to TSA Waco General Donation Page (

For more information about The Salvation Army of Waco, please visit our website at:  or call 254.756.7271 or email [email protected]

St. Jerome, H-E-B, Hello Bello pitch in for families

By Angela Daly

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and in the spirit of giving St. Jerome Catholic Church has teamed with H-E-B and Hello Bello for a free family-friendly Christmas giving event. The event, It’s All About a Baby, will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the church campus.

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Diapers, wipes, and sanitizer are among the giveaways to help families.

This inaugural event is open to the public and will feature photo opportunities with Santa, a surprise landing of the Airlift Waco chopper, festive treats, a bounce house, and complimentary supplies to celebrate the Christmas season at home.

Preparations for Christmas can be demanding for young families, so we wanted to bring them together for some family fun that is totally expense free.

Families are encouraged to attend the event for a day of entertainment along with giveaways of infant essentials – perhaps offering a little extra wiggle room in the family budget for treasures under the tree on Christmas Day.

Hello Bello has graciously contributed 350 packages of diapers, 1,000 packages of wipes and more than 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer (‘tis the season for cold and flu)!

Texas grocery chain, H-E-B, is no stranger to philanthropy and generously donated $2,500, which the parish then used to purchase 350 more units of diapers and festive treats for attendees to enjoy at the event.

Giveaways will be available until supplies run out. St. Jerome Catholic Church is at 9820 Chapel Road, Woodway. For more information, visit or call 254-666-7722.

Angela Daly is director of preschool ministry at St. Jerome Catholic Church.

It’s time to make merry & have some good, smart fun

By Ferrell Foster

’Tis the season to be merry! Christmas and New Year are coming, and merriment is in the air. In fact, we hardly ever use the word “merry” except in relation to Christmas.

Make like sober Santa and have some fun.

So what does this little-used word mean? to the rescue: 

full of cheerfulness or gaiety; joyous in disposition or spirit 

laughingly happy; mirthful; festively joyous; hilarious

You’ve got to love a little merrymaking. 

But, there is, however, a problem. For some strange reason, our culture has come to associate merry making with drinking lots of alcohol. There is probably no better indication of a sickness in our society than that we associate fun with consuming vast quantities of something that numbs our thinking.

Cutting to the chase: This holiday season, try making merry without a bunch of alcohol. A little is OK, but a lot can ruin a party and a life.

Most people do not think of what they do as binge drinking — that’s what foolish college students do. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines binge drinking as four drinks for women and five drinks for men on one occasion. 

“Heavy drinking” is eight or more drinks in a week for a woman and 15 or more for a man. (It seems alcohol is a bit sexist.)

I’m concerned broadly about the negative effects of heavy drinking on people. The more I learn about challenges facing individuals and families, the more it becomes obvious substance abuse is playing a huge part — from mental health to quality parenting, from ability to hold a job to deadly auto accidents. It’s the ugly truth that alcohol commercials never depict.

Pardon me for being direct, but some people will probably die in the next couple of weeks because some otherwise good people drink too much at a party and then drive. Please, don’t drink and drive; you might save a life, even though you will never know it. You will, however, know it for the rest of your life if you kill someone, as will all of the people who love your victim.

Also, there are some people around you who really struggle with limiting their alcohol intake. Please don’t let your own ability to “handle” a drink make it hard for people around you.

Be smart this Christmas and New Years. Be safe. Having fun need not be associated with heavy drinking. The holidays will be best in Waco if we keep the lid on drinking.

Ferrell Foster is senior specialist for care & communication with Prosper Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

Bridge Street Holiday Fest set for Dec. 19

By Natalie Galindo

Join the City of Waco as we celebrate the first big event at the newly opened Bridge Street Plaza 3-7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, with live performances beginning at 5 p.m. This family-friendly event will feature live music, local food trucks, vendors, arts and crafts, Skate Waco mobile unit, and much more.

Bridge Street Plaza (City of Waco photo)

This plaza was built with the talent and entrepreneurship of the East Waco community in mind, and thus most of our performers and vendors are from East Waco or have ties to it.

Due to construction on Elm Avenue, access to the plaza will be via Taylor Avenue. We are asking the public to park in designated parking lots along Taylor. These lots include the TFNB (715 Elm), Elm Ave Community Clinic (609 Elm), and City Center Waco (801 Elm).

Parking signage will be deployed to direct people, and a shuttle service will be available for those who have to park blocks from the plaza.

East Side Market at Brotherwell Brewing will be occurring on the same day. So, we are excited about the concentration of activity in the Elm corridor on that day.

City Center Waco is a nonprofit agency that serves as a bridge between community and development in
downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Natalie Galindo is public information communications specialist with the City of Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

The Ultimate Waco Gift Guide: Gifts for Enneagram Types

By Kelly Palmer

The Ultimate Waco Gift Guide. Y’all asked for a citywide holiday gift guide featuring beloved small businesses, so you know I had to deliver!

This year’s edition is an Enneagram Gift Guide, and each type offers three gift ideas featuring small businesses owned and operated by our neighbors. Price points are from $10 to $100, so you can find something for everyone on your list. All of the businesses highlighted here are locally owned, and the majority are also owned by women and/or people of color, with a few social enterprises, as well. Let’s #shopwaco and #shoplocal this holiday season.

Gifts for the Enneagram 1: The Reformer

Enneagram Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards.

Custom stationary from January Letter Press makes a great gift in helping them stay organized and professional looking.

Keeping a clean and organized home is hard, especially during the holidays, but a cleaning from SWEEP will sweep them off their feet! This is an especially good present if their love language is Acts of Service.

An Enneagram One also strives to have a perfect tree and decorations from World Cup Cafe and Fair Trade Market are a great way to achieve that.

Gifts for the Enneagram 2: The Helper

Enneagram Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. 

A Five Pack of classes from Yoga8 can help them take care of themselves instead of focusing on helping others. Since they are so used to caring for others it will mean a lot to them that you are helping them care for themselves.

A bouquet from Bloom Waco will also remind them how good it feels to be cared for and will be a lovely gift that is about them.

Since an Enneagram Two takes joy in helping others, they will love having a nice piece that makes it easier for them to celebrate themselves and others. This cake stand from Harper Design Co takes the cake on cake stands. This is an especially good present if their love language is Quality Time.

Gifts for the Type 3 Enneagram: The Achiever

Enneagram Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them.

A unique piece of art from local artist Christal Peterson will help any Type Three make sure their home or office stands out.

Alchemy Jewelry House features sterling silver and gold plated pieces that will ensure your Type Three is impressing everyone around them.

A bottle of Frisant Wine from Waco Wine Shoppe will be a great way for your Type Three to impress their guests at their next dinner or party.

Gifts for Type 4 Enneagram: The Individualist

Type Fours want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and surround themselves with beauty.

A Custom Hat from Virgo & Co is a one-of-a-kind piece that will make them feel seen.

Leather Journals from MC Art Supplies are the perfect way to give your Type Four their main character moment. Are they writing a novel or a grocery list? Who cares? They look cool doing it.

Bring out your inner Cha-rista with Matcha powder from Cha Community and let your Type Four custom make their drinks exactly the way they like them. (Formerly known as Waco Cha).

Gifts for Type 5 Enneagram: The Investigator

Enneagram Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. Type Fives want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, at their best they are visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

A bottle of Malt Whiskey from Balcones Distilling will get their curiosity and creativity flowing.

Topographical Tumblers from Black Oak Art are unique, interesting pieces of art that will spark joy.

A trip to Central Goods will be like a trip to Disney for Enneagram Fives.

Gifts for Type 6 Enneagram: The Loyalist

The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation. Type Sixes want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to fight against anxiety and insecurity.

A Waco Hat from Waco Hat Company will help them show off their hometown pride!

Type Sixes can be overthinkers and a hand-poured candle from Symphony Candle Co will help them relax and live in the moment!

Type Sixes love to solve problems and this puzzle from Fabled Bookshop will speak to their inner problem solver while in a way where they can relax and have fun.

Gifts for Enneagram Type 7: The Enthusiast

Enneagram Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical. They want to have fun and fear missing out on things that will be fun.

A Family Cameron Park Zoo membership is the perfect activity for Enneagram Sevens because it is fun and interactive. With a membership they can easily go anytime they feel like being spontaneous because there’s not a lot of planning involved.

Life is like a box of chocolate and these chocolates from Splendid Oaks will be a fun way for your type Seven to enjoy delicious chocolate in a way that feels like a mini adventure.

These retro earrings from The Black Daisy will make any outfit more fun!

Gifts for Type 8: The Challenger

Enneagram Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive. Type Eights want to be self-reliant, to prove their strength and resist weakness, to be important in their world, to dominate the environment, and to stay in control of their situation.

Axe Throwing at Waco Axe Company is the perfect way to demonstrate strength and control in a way that’s fun for everyone.

This bag from Wildland will help your Enneagram Eight keep everything together and under control in the most fashionable way.

Meal Prepping is so good for you but it can be extremely time consuming and overwhelming. Help your Enneagram Eight take control of their health and make sure they’re easting well to stay strong. This is an especially good present if their love language is Acts of Service.

Gifts for Enneagram Type 9: The Peacemaker

Enneagram Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.

This hoodie from Clasé Vintage Goods is the perfect way to make everyone know their deepest desire is to see everyone happy!

The Winter Nourishing Gift Set from Lovely Enterprises is the perfect way to show your Enneagram Type 9 that you understand their desires of bringing peace by supporting a great local nonprofit that supports women who are survivors of abuse.

Coffee from Be Kind Coffee is the best way for your Enneagram 9 to start their morning off on the right foot and to remind them above all to just be kind.

Kelly Palmer is a licensed social worker, educator, and member of the Waco City Council.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster.

Juneteenth rooted in American and family history — ‘free at last’

By Dr. Peaches Henry

I grew up in Palestine, about two hours due east of Waco, where Juneteenth was a huge holiday in the Black community and in my family as well. 

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became effective Jan. 1, 1863, declaring “that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were freed.” Yet, it was not until two years later, June 19, 1865, that enslaved people in Texas heard the news of their freedom in Galveston. One year later, the first Juneteenth or Jubilee Day was celebrated. Celebrations continue in Texas and across the nation.

Dr. Peaches Henry drives a truck in the 2018 Juneteenth parade in Waco. This year Waco will celebrate this important day of freedom with a number of activities.

From my earliest days, I remember my family celebrating Juneteenth with a huge family celebration. The birthdays of a great aunt and great uncle sandwiched the holiday falling on June 18 and 20. For years, I thought it was so great that the whole county celebrated Aunt Lila’s and Uncle Monroe’s birthdays. 

My extended family on my mama’s side would head out to the country home of Aunt Lila and Uncle Monroe on Juneteenth. Kinfolk from the big cities of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston drove in. Grownup cousins who had moved away from Palestine came back to show off their sophistication. 

The men would stay up all night barbecuing briskets, ribs, links, and chicken. The women would bring homemade pound cakes, teacakes, sweet potato pies, and peach cobblers along with fried chicken, turnip and collard greens, potato salad, pinto beans, homemade biscuits, and cornbread. Red cream soda and whatever it was that the menfolk had in those brown paper bags out by the pit were the drinks of choice. 

The children would go out into the watermelon patch using the “thump” technique to select the ripest and sweetest melons possible. And of course, there was a chocolate birthday cake to mark the birthdays of Aunt Lila and Uncle Monroe. There was always a prayer — over the food, over the family, over the children. 

The family spent the day visiting and catching up on everyone’s lives. The great-great aunts, great-aunts, and regular aunts made the kids’ lives a misery with sloppy, loving kisses and mushy bosom hugs that we endured, because they were followed by nickels and dimes pulled from the knotted corners of handkerchiefs. 

Kids roamed the still working farm riding the old horse who pulled my uncle’s plow, bothering the chickens in the coup looking for eggs to collect, hiking into the nearby woods, playing baseball with rocks for bases, and grabbing a chicken leg here or a slice of melon there. My big mama and her sister, the birthday girl, circled up under a shade tree (there was no air-conditioning on the farm) with their daughters my mama, her sisters, and first and second cousins, and they traded family gossip (warning us kids away from listening to “grown folk” talk with looks that could freeze Kool-Aid.) 

Dr. Peaches Henry (front right) and other supporters of the local NAACP marked Juneteenth in 2016.

The men gathered under a different shade tree to play dominoes — loud, table hitting, trash-talking dominoes. I thrilled to witness these matches and was delighted when I was given the job of keeping score. I sat between my two favorite uncles (who I learned as an adult were not uncles but second cousins) and kept score like I was scorekeeper for the World Series.

At the end of the day, parents gathered up tired children, wiped as much dirt and food off them as possible, kissed everyone goodbye, and promised to see everyone next Juneteenth (“if the Lord say the same”). On the 20-minute trip back to town (after all, Palestine was the county seat), we three kids would fall asleep to my parents re-hashing all the family gossip my mama had collected. Year after year, I grew up to the predictable rhythms of these Juneteenth celebrations.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the University of Texas at Austin to discover that my mostly white classmates had no idea what Juneteenth was or what it celebrated and commemorated. I considered their ignorance their loss and returned to Palestine throughout my undergrad years to celebrate Juneteenth at Aunt Lila’s and Uncle Monroe’s farm. 

I was more forgiving of my grad school classmates. Afterall, they were northerners and not expected to understand Texas culture. I patiently explained Juneteenth to them and invited them to celebrate with me in Central Park.

Somewhere along the way, Juneteenth became a national holiday with African Americans around the country celebrating the day possibly as a result of transplanted Texans marking it. Even communities whose celebrations have diminished over the decades have been revived. 

The holiday is now marked with picnics, parades, service projects, and Ms./Mr. Juneteenth pageants. In 2020, Juneteenth was observed with protests for social justice. Wacoans have been celebrating Juneteenth for decades and have revived the holiday in recent years with participation in events steadily increasing. 

A measure of the holiday’s new status is evident in a feature story on Juneteenth pageants in the The New York Times. The 2020 film, “Miss Juneteenth,” directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, is being re-released in theaters this week. And wonder of wonders, both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives passed legislation making Juneteenth a national holiday; the bill heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law in time for Juneteenth on Saturday. 

At the local level, City Councilwoman Andrea Barefield is working on making Juneteenth a legal city holiday.

Juneteenth gives us a moment to reflect on our ability as a country to course correct as we move toward the promise enshrined in the document of our other Freedom Day that all people “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Let us celebrate!

Peaches Henry is president of the Waco NAACP and an English professor at McLennan Community College. She is the proud mother of Corey Henry, who is practicing law in New York. She is currently training her two-year old Juneteenth-born Black lab Samson.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco’s ‘4th on the Brazos’ returning this year

By Megan Davis

The City of Waco’s annual “4th on the Brazos” celebration is set to return Sunday, July 4, at Touchdown Alley, next to Baylor University’s McLane Stadium. Admission is free, and the community is invited to enjoy the festivities with food trucks, live music, family fun, and fireworks.

Gates will open at 6 p.m., and the fireworks will kick off at about 9:15 p.m. The fireworks will be shot above the river, between Touchdown Alley and the Ferrell Center. They will be visible from both sides of the river, the Ferrell Center, and areas around Baylor campus.

Bag check stations will be located at all entrances. Coolers with drinks and snacks are allowed, but glass bottles and containers are prohibited. Extra hand washing stations will be located throughout the grounds, and guests are encouraged to practice social distancing.

Additional details, including an event schedule and artist announcement, will be available soon. For updates, visit or follow Brazos Nights on Facebook or Instagram.

Megan Davis works the City of Waco’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Surviving COVID-19 and the Holidays

By Dr. Peaches Henry

As predicted by infectious disease experts in the summer, coronavirus infections are now surging across the nation during the winter and holiday period.  COVID-19 hospitalizations in McLennan County hit a record on Monday, November 24, and local health officials said that warnings about Thanksgiving gatherings must be taken seriously.  If not, the McLennan County’s medical capacity could be strained in the weeks afterwards.  The scientists of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are pleading with Americans to avoid traveling for Thanksgiving and to celebrate only with members of our immediate households.  Put starkly, spend Thanksgiving with family; spend Christmas in the ICU. 

Facing these dire consequences, many of us have decided to forego our traditional holiday celebrations to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.  My own family, stretched across several Texas cities and involved in various conditions of employment including completely working from home, working hybridly, and working face-to-face all dealing with students, has decided to forego a face-to-face Thanksgiving this year.

Though I am disappointed not to be with my family, I wanted to reach out to others to offer some ways that we are trying to get through this time.  Let’s face it.  We might have to spend Christmas separated as well.  We might as well prepare for the entire holiday season—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, all of them. These are safe activities that are good for our emotional and mental health that abide by the recommendations of the CDC and local doctors.

Be grateful.

  1. If you are reading this blog, be thankful.  Though 2020 has been unprecedented in so many ways, we still have much to be thankful for.  Count your blessings.  Since it is 2020, count up to twenty blessings.  Go ahead and count twenty more, because it’s 2020.

Reach out to others.

Though apart, we are in this season together. Some people suffer from depression during this season even when we are not in a worldwide pandemic, so you can imagine how down they are feeling now.  We know that giving to others helps build resilience and diminishes some of the isolation many are suffering.  Therefore, it is important to be purposeful about reaching out to people and making them feel part of the community.

  1. How about that new neighbor who just moved in?  Write a note of welcome with your phone number for emergencies. Or that family whose children have been learning remotely for weeks?  Leave a puzzle or a card game on the front porch. 
  2. Give poinsettias to several of your neighbors. 
  3. Deliver a meal to someone you know will be alone for the holidays.  Bake cookies and let your children deliver them to neighbors (remember, contact free!).  This is one of the CDC recommended substitute activities.

Find new ways to observe your family’s traditions. 

  1. One of the activities I miss most is cooking and chatting with family the night before the big day, especially with my mom (now gone to heaven) “suggesting” that I add more of this or that ingredient. This year I’m cooking and chatting with my sister via Zoom.
  2. Among my family’s time-honored traditions is playing board games.  From Connect Four to Monopoly to Bible Trivial Pursuit to Trouble to Uno to Jenga to Sorry to Scrabble, we play them all.  To say that we play games is a milquetoast description of what my family has done over the years.  We play ferocious, competitive, winner-take-all games.  We game out which games we are going to play weeks ahead.  We pick our teams with winning in mind—my late mom, the Sunday School superintendent, for Bible Trivial Pursuit; my son, the strategizing law student, for Monopoly; my brother, the sports fanatic and movie enthusiast, for Trivial Pursuit; and me, the English professor, for Scrabble.  Good sportsmanship is a must:  winners and losers must shake hands and smile at the end of the game.  My sister and I still crack up remembering the grimaces that passed for smiles when we were children.  Then we gloat all year till the next holiday (really for years).  The family still gives me grief for not remembering Robert Ludlum as the author of the Bourne Identity which would have won the game for the girls in 2006! Argh!  So how will my family replace this tradition when we will not be together?  We are still going to play games.  We are going to harness the power of technology—Zoom, Facetime, Google Hangouts, etc.  One game we are going to play is the #Hashtag.  This will advantage millennials and GenXers, but I plan to get one on my team.  Whatever your family’s tradition is, find a new way to celebrate it.
  3. Enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while you prepare dinner?  The full 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on YouTube.
  4. Watch your favorite holiday specials together on Zoom.  “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will air free on PBS on December 13.  One, two, three, click!
  5. Put “the game” on at everyone’s house and watch it “together.”
  6. Sing Christmas carols together via Zoom.

Bring back old traditions. 

  1. A Christmas card arriving via the USPS in a mailbox would lift the spirits of someone who is spending the holiday alone and away from family.  Writing the cards together as a family over cookies and milk or tea could create some great family moments.  The benefits of a paper card is that it can be hung up in a barracks, stuck to a refrigerator, or placed on a desk.

Create new traditions. 

  1. Plug your charger into your phones and have a conversation with a group of friends or family members.  This can easily be done via Zoom, but if folks are tired of Zoom, everyone can kick back on couches and chat.  We play a conversation game called “Favorite” at dinner parties that is easily transferable to a phone conversation.  It works for all ages and leads to great conversations and reveals surprising tidbits about players.  Sample topics:  What is your favorite childhood television show?  Dark Shadows, anyone?  What is your favorite book?  Favorite mystery? Favorite car?  Favorite animal?
  2. Have a drive-by parade for sick-n-shut-ins at your church.

Put on your favorite soundtrack.

  1. A good soundtrack can make any situation bearable.  Put yours on and dance the night away.  Take your pick of music streaming platforms:  Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music.
  2. Go a step further and dance.  Use YouTube videos to learn the steps to line dances.  The Electric Slide (old school favorite), the Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle, the Cotton Eyed Joe.  Dancing is a much more enjoyable way of getting those endorphins going than running.

Breathe, relax, release.

  1. Embrace the fact that you don’t have to cook a twelve-course meal for twenty family members plus that family of six who will show up without notice.
  2. Be happy that Uncle Blank won’t be at the table to ask uncomfortable questions.  Do give him a call though.
  3. Go to bed early the night before Thanksgiving Day.  Better, get up late on Thanksgiving Day.
  4. Put your holiday decorations up early.  My neighbors seem to already have decided to do this.  Lights lift the spirits.  My family usually waits till Christmas Eve to go see the lights.  This year, I’m going early.

Bonus:  Have hope and faith!

  1. Know that we will get through this time.  History is our witness.  The world got through the 1918 flu pandemic.  We will get through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Peaches Henry is the president of the Waco NAACP and an English professor at McLennan Community College.  She will be spending Thanksgiving with her best friend and black Lab Samson and Christmas with her son Corey and Samson.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected]for more information.

The Act Locally Waco Thanksgiving Cookbook

Happy Thanksgiving, Waco! A few weeks ago, I put out a call in The Whole Enchilada, asking for people’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes. I wanted to create a blog post that could serve as a community cookbook for Waco. And, boy, did you deliver some fantastic recipes! Read on for three great recipes from your Waco neighbors: a show stopping side, a fun and easy dessert, and a unique twist on Thanksgiving leftovers! Then, click here for a special Act Locally Thanksgiving recipe card you can print off and use to keep these recipes for years to come!

The Recipe: Hasselback Butternut Squash (Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)

This recipe was submitted by Rachel, who has lived in Waco on and off for the past 10 years, and whose favorite Waco spot is Lula Jane’s porch! Rachel made this recipe while celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK and added the serrano pepper and sorghum syrup for a little Southern flair once she returned to Waco.


1 large butternut squash

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 serrano chile, thinly sliced

¼ cup pure sorghum syrup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

6–8 dried bay leaves


Place a rack in the upper third of oven; preheat oven to 425°F. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Using a peeler, remove skin and white flesh below (you should reach the deep orange flesh). Rub all over with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast in a baking dish just large enough to hold halves side by side until beginning to soften (a paring knife should easily slip in only about ¼”), 15–18 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring chile, sorghum syrup, butter, and vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally and removing chile as soon as desired heat level is reached (set aside for serving), until just thick enough to coat spoon, 6–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and keep glaze warm.

Transfer squash to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Using a sharp knife, score rounded sides of squash halves crosswise, going as deep as possible but without cutting all the way through. Return squash to baking dish, scored sides up, and tuck bay leaves between a few of the slices; season with salt and pepper.

Roast squash, basting with glaze every 10 minutes or so and using pastry brush to lift off any glaze in the dish that is browning too much, until tender and glaze forms a rich brown coating, 45–60 minutes. Serve topped with reserved chiles.

The Recipe: Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Pie Bites (From the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service)

This recipe was submitted by Lindsey, who has lived in Waco for 5 years and loves walks along the Brazos River! This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, or even halved, depending on how big or small your Thanksgiving crowd is!


15 mini phyllo shells, frozen

1/4 cup liquid egg substitute

3 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon room temperature butter

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 drop vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon chopped walnuts

2 tablespoon chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine egg substitute, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.

Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts into mixture. Arrange phyllo shells on baking sheet and distribute the mixture evenly among the shells. Combine remaining nuts and sprinkle them on the top of the shells.

Bake in the oven until edges are crisp, 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. If you like, top each piece with a squirt of fat free whipped cream topping. Enjoy!

The Recipe: Thanksgiving Leftovers Lasagna

This recipe was submitted by an anonymous Act Locally reader, who has lived in Waco for 49 years and whose favorite Waco spots include Cameron Park and the River Walk at the Waco Suspension Bridge! This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers; feel free to swap any ingredients based on whatever leftovers are in your fridge!


3 cups leftover cornbread stuffing

1 (14-oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 ¼ lbs cooked turkey breast, sliced into ¼ inch slices

3 cups cooked mashed potatoes

2 cups green beans, corn, or mixed vegetables

6 oz sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)

Gravy, for serving


Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a square baking dish with cooking spray.

Spread half of the stuffing in a layer in bottom of prepared baking dish. Spread half of the cranberry sauce in an even layer over stuffing. Layer half of turkey slices on top of cranberry sauce, then half of vegetable of choice, then spread half of the mashed potatoes on top of vegetables. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on top of potatoes. Repeat layers once. Bake in preheated oven until lasagna is warmed through, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to broil, and broil until cheese is golden, about 2 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before cutting into squares. Spoon gravy over each square to serve.

Becca Muncy is an Act Locally intern from Dallas. She is studying professional writing at Baylor University and is completing her senior year.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected]for more information.

Here’s to a mentally healthy holiday season!

By Cynthia Cunningham

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us!  I know, it seems like we were just relaxing on our summer vacation. Suddenly, we are flooded with holiday commercials, sales, and music. This festive whammy can knock us off our feet if we are not prepared.

Why can’t we move calmly through the shopping, decorating, cooking and socializing? Could it be that we believe we need to have the “perfect” holidays? After all, that’s what all the holiday movies on Lifetime show us! If they can hold it all together and have the ideal holidays, why can’t we?

First of all, forget Lifetime movies!! After all, they have a whole crew who builds those amazing sets to create the ideal family home decorated beautifully for the holidays. Their lovely laid tables with the perfect food is often not real food. And their families, who get along lovingly, are actors reading a script! What does this tell us? It’s NOT real!! So we must stop comparing our lives to these shows!

So here is our reality: Holidays bring stress, anxiety, depression and just a feeling of being overwhelmed with trying to manage it all!  It’s the time of year that we are more aware of the people we have lost and when we deal with loneliness.  It does not matter your age, we can all be overcome with these feelings.

Secondly, the key to manage your mental health during the holidays is to be mindful of what you are expecting to accomplish. Start with a “To Do” list. Write down everything that you wish to accomplish. Next, break down the items on your “To Do” list and put them on your calendar. This allows you the opportunity to tackle things one day at a time. Seeing things that you need to accomplish on one day is less overwhelming than the whole long list. And you will feel proud each day you are able to mark off a completed item.

Thirdly, allow those around you to help. I know, the kids don’t decorate the tree exactly the way you want it done. Release that control and see how proud they are of what they have created. Or if that doesn’t work for you, sit down with the family and your “To Do” list and see who will agree to take on which task. This shows your family that you are a unit together. And you are teaching younger generations how to handle the holiday chores.

Fourth, to manage those feelings of depression, keep connected. I know this is not always easy. Find ways to volunteer within your community. There are always organizations that can use help. You will be amazed how helping others can chase away those depressed feelings. Or take advantage of the fun activities happening in your community. You could take a class on making ornaments, join a group going caroling or visiting nursing homes during their craft time. If these activities feel too much for you, ask your family and friends to check in on you. There is no shame in admitting that you struggle during the holidays. When you are open about your feelings with them, it gives them permission to be a part of helping you through the rough times.

Fifth, when dealing with a loss, embrace the happy memories. You can create a new tradition to keep the memory of your loved one alive. For example, if they had a cause that was dear to them, find a way the family can help that cause. Again, check in with your family and friends and let them know if you are struggling with the loss and ask for help getting through the holidays.

Lastly, just know that nobody’s holiday is perfect. Just enjoy the companionship that comes during this time of year. These are the memories that you will treasure in the future. Do your best to focus on these relationships because they are the true gifts of the holidays.

Cynthia Cunningham teaches mental health education classes and advocates for better care. She has been married over 30 years to her high school sweetheart and is the proud mother of an amazing daughter. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.