Texas Man Gets Stimulus Check, Buys Hundreds of Hotdogs and Burgers for His Neighbors

A Texas man who received his stimulus check this week used the money to purchase hundreds of hotdogs and burgers for families in his community.

Ronald Kearney, 61, told local media he took action after a supermarket shut down and he saw how residents in his neighborhood in Killeen, Bell County, were struggling. He decided to use his government-issued money to help feed those in need.

According to the Killeen Daily Herald newspaper, Kearney bulk-bought food items and handed out meals and takeaway parcels to anyone who asked. He said he ran out in a matter of hours, but not before providing for approximately 160 families.

"Everyone is going to remember this time," he said. "If people act like jerks right now, everyone is going to remember it. If people are good to each other, they will remember that, too. How we act now is going to define us for the rest of our lives."

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Multiple photos of the outside cook-up, which took place on Wednesday with the help of neighborhood volunteers, were published by the local newspaper.

It appeared to take place despite social distancing guidance in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some attendees in close proximity and without face masks.

"I've been through hell myself so I know what it's like to hurt and I see people hurting and it drives me crazy. I got my check, I went to Walmart, and I spent that check, and I bought as much as I could buy with that check," Kearney told KCEN.

"Right now is how we define ourselves as a country and a people. Just because we're poor doesn't mean we don't have stress. We're just like everybody else and we can help our neighbors... Don't fear each other, care for each other," he continued.

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The Killeen Police Department has been contacted for comment by Newsweek asking if the good samaritan may have violated any government guidelines.

A "Declaration of Local State of Disaster for Public Health Emergency" was signed by the Killeen mayor on March 18, limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.

City officials have said social distancing is advised despite Gov. Greg Abbott's plans to reopen parts of the state's economy and relax stay-at-home orders.

"Effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 1, residents are no longer required to stay home but are encouraged to take personal precautions, including social distancing, to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19," the city website says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It circulates easily between people who are in close contact with one another.

There is no known cure or vaccine for the infectious disease, which can be spread by people who do not appear to have obvious symptoms.

To date, Bell County has recorded 189 cases of COVID-19, and at least three deaths are linked to the illness. In Texas, more than 28,000 people have contracted the infectious respiratory disease, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University.

The stimulus checks are being sent out to citizens under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27. It gives households up to $1,200 per adult, with $500 more per child under 17 years old.

On April 26, the Department of the Treasury and IRS said enhancements had been made to the "Get My Payment" app to help citizens obtain the free funds.

President Donald Trump tweeted this week: "Over 120 million Economic Impact Payments have already gone out to hardworking Americans! If you haven't yet received your payment, go to http://IRS.gov and click on 'Get My Payment' to receive your money fast."

Hamburgers on the grill (Stock photo)
File photo: Ronald Kearney, 61, told local media he took action after a supermarket shut down and he saw how residents in his neighborhood in Killeen, Bell County, were struggling. He decided to use his government-issued money to help feed those in need. iStock
Texas Man Gets Stimulus Check, Buys Hundreds of Hotdogs and Burgers for His Neighbors | News