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Pay it Forward: Couple helps families in need in time for the holidays

Bridge under the Bridge trailer. It remains dormant until the couple can find a new place to park (John McMahon/Iowa's News Now).
Bridge under the Bridge trailer. It remains dormant until the couple can find a new place to park (John McMahon/Iowa's News Now).
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The holidays are the season of giving, but oftentimes making that act of giving doesn't always come to fruition.

Bridgette Williams-Robinson and her husband Jovountae Robinson fill that void year round, deciding to give back to the eastern Iowa community in any way they can. After the 2020 derecho hit, the couple decided to cook hot meals for anyone that needed one with their 'Bridge Under The Bridge' food truck.

Now searching for a new location for their truck and not currently serving food, the two are still finding ways to give back to the community.

"We're focusing on holiday events now until we get back up and running," said Bridgette. "Right now we’re doing our Christmas adopt-a-tree drive, which we started that after the derecho, because we realized how many kids had been displaced."

She says they were only expecting to adopt 50 kids for the adopt-a-tree event when they started the drive. This year, that number has reached 192 kids.

"The ornaments contain an entire family as opposed to one kid, because sometimes if you don't have just one kid, not every kid get adopted in that family," said Bridgette. "We don't want that to be a hindrance for a Mom not being able to provide for her kids."

For Bridgette and Jovountae, their efforts are personal, after going through hard times themselves.

"We’ve always needed help in the past, coming from Illinois there isn't a lot of opportunity and support," said Bridgette. "Once we were able to get our heads above water, giving back to the community was the least we could do."

"I was a kid growing up in Chicago not really privileged to have much. My parents went to get adopted to Christmas [events] and there were times when we didn't have things for Christmas," said Jovountae. "I understand that struggle."

Those interested in lending a hand can pick up an ornament with a wish list of items for a family on the back and drop off the items at Sugarfire Smokehouse in Cedar Rapids.

"I don't think I realized how big it would become," said Angela Guzman, General Manager at Sugarfire. "Its good to take time to do a little more."

"The most rewarding thing is the Moms. Being in a position where you couldn’t give your kids Christmas before, you can see the relief on their faces," said Bridgette.

As for the decision to give back or not, the pair has a simple message:

"Being able to help, why not? Why not."

The last day to drop off items at Sugarfire is December 19, with the drop off event to families happening on the 21st at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids.

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Bridge Under the Bridge will recieve a $100 donation thanks to our Pay It Forward sponsors, Carlos O'Kellys and CopyWorks.

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