Community starts fundraiser to get dedicated Madison volunteer a new car

A Madison woman spends hours every day getting food into the hands of those who need it most. Now her community returns the favor with an outstanding gesture.
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 12:30 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Madison woman spends hours every day in the streets of her neighborhood, getting food into the hands of those who need it most. Now her community is returning the favor with an outstanding gesture.

Debra Childress overcame homelessness several years ago. “I was in a homeless situation years ago, so I know what it’s like to be homeless, living in the street, you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. You don’t know how you’re going to make it through the day,” told Childress.

Now she volunteers her time at several organizations, including hosting a weekly pop-up pantry in her own neighborhood of nearly 30 years, Allied Drive. She calls her ministry Fruits of The Spirit.

“I’m just really giving back what was given to me,” said Childress.

She even makes home-deliveries, but recently her trusty old car gave out. “That was my baby. It was big, it was spacious and I could a lot of stuff in that car.”

She spent an entire stimulus check on a used car, but soon ran into more problems again. “It wasn’t a week after they had to come tow it away cause it’s basically got the same problems that my other car had,” explained Childress.

Her friend at Healthy Food For All Of Dane County, Joe Mingle, came up with the idea to start a GoFundMe to get Debra a new van for her food transports and other volunteer work.

“She’s been relentless and unstoppable, even in the coldest part of the winter she would host a pop-up pantry like this. Now we’re just trying to show her the love and get her resources so that she can expand and do more,” said Mingle.

“I just want to be able to maintain and keep doing what I’m doing for my community,” said Childress.

As of Friday morning, the GoFundMe had reached more than $22,600 of their $30,000. Debra is blown away by the generosity of all the donors.

“I’m going to tell you the truth, I cry almost every day. I’ve never experienced this before, never. My heart is like overjoyed. I get teary even when I talk about it,” told Childress.

Debra hopes to expand her ministry to reach even more neighborhoods, once she gets her new set of wheels.

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