FORT WORTH, Texas — When it comes to giving, it is second nature for some people. Especially when you've been giving for a very long time.
That's the case for Eula Pickens of Fort Worth, Texas.
When you meet her, you would never guess her number of years around the sun either. She is one of Cowtown's quietest community activists, helping people one act of kindness at a time.
When she gives, she gives from the heart.
"It's a part of me. I just love to give," Pickens said.
The week before the year's biggest holiday, Pickens is preparing for yet another huge Christmas giveaway. But at her age, it takes a little more prep time and a lot of drive.
She's lived through a lot in Fort Worth, including the mighty floods that wiped out an entire section of the city and her childhood school.
Still, Pickens has seen more years than most people will even dare to dream about seeing when it comes to a long life.
"I am 94," said Pickens. "As long as you know that you are helping somebody that really needs it. It's a blessing to me because I am blessing them."
Pickens will give away 200 Christmas bags. She wants less fortunate people to know they're not forgotten, especially the homeless.
The Christmas bags are not designated for anyone in particular. But after helping so many needy families and individuals over the years, people have come to expect Pickens to give such gifts every year.
In fact, she has done it for so long now there are others who donate to her cause. Some of the needy families in her Fort Worth neighborhood will come to pick up their gifts. There are others who will volunteer to help distribute the gifts to people living on the street and under bridges almost within walking distance of her home.
"We have folk in allies. Up on North Main, there are just hangouts, we find those folk," said Pickens.
Pickens and her lifelong best friend are a joy to see when they are out and about in North Texas.
"She's 97 and I am 94," said Pickens. "She went to school with my older sister. She's the one that come up with this Lone Star Candy out there on Park Vista."
When the two started out on their shopping spree, they used directions to go from store to store.
Pickens is a big fan of stripe candy and wants it included in the gift bags this year. She already has the fresh fruit she will give away.
She has boxes of apples, oranges and grapefruits stacked in her family room at home. During the shopping spree with her 97-year-old friend, they had hoped to locate the Lone Star Candy store.
"But it was a candle shop," said Pickens, "So we did come back to Stockyard."
After shopping at the Stockyards, the best friends decided to call it quits for the day. Walking from store to store can be tough on you when you are 90-plus years young.
Pickens said, "Walking and half the time we were kind of crippling. But we were making it. These legs are kind of giving me problems but I am not letting that stop me."
This all follows her 190 Thanksgiving dinner giveaway. Pickens didn't want people around her going hungry so she decided to do something about it.
She started cooking for family, friends and even strangers years ago. This year her generosity became even more important after seeing so many struggles during the pandemic. The 94-year-old starts her Thanksgiving cooking early for the giveaways.
"We had Turkey, string beans, mac and cheese," said Pickens. "And when we ran out of string beans and mac and cheese we used mashed potatoes."
Now her heart is set on making sure each Christmas bag is special. Especially if she can locate her own favorite candy to go into the bag.
Giving just makes her feel good and even more so when she can share some of the things she really enjoys, like her favorite candy.
"That's the reason I am trying to find Lone Star Candy because they make ribbon candy," said Pickens. "Then tomorrow I am going to find socks and gloves."
Pickens doesn't just wait until the holidays to give away food and other items to the needy. She is constantly collecting clothing, for example, to pass along to people in need.
Pickens is an angel to people in her community, not only to family and friends but also to people she meets for the first time.