Well into March, customers at Sam Maredia’s Aurora Stores were desperate for hand sanitizer. Maredia is the president and owner of 10 stores, mostly under the Aurora name, spread across Brazos, Grimes and Burleson counties in Texas. The 25-year-old business is known for its fried chicken tacos and handmade tortillas. As communities rushed to collect supplies to protect peoples’ health at the onset of the pandemic, Maredia thought about who needed help the most. “What about the first responders? Those people are our first line of defense,” he says. “They’re always putting themselves on the line, so who’s going to think about them?” Maredia bought thousands of masks and packages of hand sanitizer and donated them to police departments, fire departments and sheriff offices in each county served by Aurora Stores. Maredia also gave 40 gift cards to local healthcare workers to redeem for free food or gas from any of his stores. Help isn’t limited to first responders and healthcare workers, either. Maredia and his staff have begun distributing free masks to any customers over the age of 10 asking for them. His next project is putting together boxes of free food and other supplies for those in need. “It is our duty to help our community because the community gives us a business. That is my goal—to help wherever I can.”

Aurora owner Sam Maredia shares resources with sheriff, police and fire departments in counties surrounding Bryan, Texas.