AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 2000 candles are providing light and a little bit of warmth to homes in need around the Austin-area.
A local candle company, Illuminidol, opened its warehouse to give away candles to those without power during last week’s winter storm.
“It was more just a neighborly thing in the beginning, just helping people out,” Gavin Inverso said.
Inverso, the owner of Illuminidol, was without power as the weather began to worsen. He lives in the Rosewood area of east Austin. Inverso considers himself fortunate, though.
“I was one of the more lucky ones where I have an old school wall furnace so my heat never went out,” he said. “I was still able to have heat even though we lost electricity and kept hot water and everything.”
However, his neighbors lost those basic utilities for more than three days, so he took to action.
Growing up in the northeast, Inverso felt comfortable traveling around to help folks. He sought out people with pipe issues and turned off their water, drove to get supplies for neighbors and friends, and dropped off others at family members’ houses with power. He even opened his doors to neighbors, so they could come inside, stay warm and use his hot water.
Inverso’s candles then flickered in his mind and a light bulb went off. He had three cases of candles at his house and gave them to neighbors who needed some light at night. Then, his mind wandered to his warehouse in Buda, Texas. Countless candles were just collecting dust.
“They’re just sitting there, not doing anything,” Inverso said. “Wish we could have gone earlier.”
On Wednesday, he felt safe to drive down and pick up the candles from the warehouse with his van. His social media manager, Avery, then went to work getting the word out.
“Just kind of putting out feelers, ‘Hey, is this something that’s needed out there?’ And if so, ‘Where can we drop them off?’” Inverso said.
“I was just happy to get them out into people’s hands. It just felt like it would be a good thing, the right thing to do,” Inverso said. “Given the situation, it just seemed like such a small thing, compared to people not having heat. I mean, I wish we could have done more than that… I definitely left every place feeling a lot better, just about the situation and helping out.”
Since the storm, he has been going back and forth between Austin and Buda to pick up candles when he can and drop some off at locations that clear stock.
If you’re a person, household or business interested in distributing or receiving candles, Inverso asks to reach out on social media, especially if you’re still without power. Feel free to tag yourself and others in the comments. If interested in giving back to the company and nonprofits, you can order Illuminidol’s candles online. Over the past couple of years, it has started donating 10% of all online orders to nonprofits. Its total-to-date donations are near $60,000.