Learn how her grandfather inspired her to give back

Storehouse Izzy Thomas and her grandfather


Volunteer Izzy Thomas and her Gampy, Ben Romero.

Izzy Thomas is a longtime supporter, volunteer, and friend of the Storehouse. She began as a volunteer as a high school student. Then, her larger philanthropic efforts started 2017 when she created Izzy’s Hike for Hunger as part of her senior project at the Albuquerque Academy. The event was a huge success! As a senior in high school, Izzy raised over 32,000 meals to feed local families. But she didn’t do it alone. Since her very first hike for hunger, she had her Gampy by her side. Izzy’s Grandfather, Ben Romero, was her #1 fan and supporter in all of her endeavors, including the annual Hike for Hunger through 2019. Last year was no exception. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Izzy and her Gampy had an idea. Since group activities weren’t safe and many park areas were closed, she knew hiking wasn’t an option. Instead, they were inspired to host a drive-by, community-wide food drive. The ABQ Grub Crawl was born!

With the ABQ Grub Crawl, donors didn’t need to bring food to the Storehouse. Instead Izzy and her volunteers came to them. They traveled across Albuquerque, collecting food donations people left on their curbs and driveways. Overall, she collected over 18,425 meals to fed local families in need. In 2020, thanks to the pandemic, food insecurity skyrocketed and so did food prices. Izzy’s efforts, and everyone who donated to the ABQ Grub Crawl, were a big help to the food pantry.

This Year Izzy is Doing ABQ Grub Crawl in Honor of Her Gampy

This year, once again, Izzy will be hosting the ABQ Grub Crawl. It’s taking place across Albuquerque August 5-7, 2021. She has been gathering volunteers and support. Sadly, her Gampy passed away earlier this year, so he’s with her in spirit only this time around. Izzy says, “Gampy was larger than life. He looked past race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, and saw potential in every single person he talked to.” Gampy’s legacy will continue to inspire Izzy to give back.

Izzy can’t remember a time when Gampy wasn’t there to help her carry on when times were hard or to encourage her to see her accomplishments when she overcame the hurdles. From the time she made the “trash-art” doll her Gammy still has proudly displayed, to the 8th grade basketball game where she got her braces stuck in someone’s hair, to her high-school graduation, he cared about everything happening in her life. No memories stand out more to her than the ones they shared doing fundraisers for the Storehouse. Because of this, the Storehouse will always have a special place in her heart.

How to Support the 2021 ABQ Grub Crawl

Izzy Thomas sits in the bed of the pick up truck she uses to pick up donations during the Grub Crawl food drive for the Storehouse food bank.


Izzy and her team will pickup donations all over Albuquerque and at certain Albertsons Market locations August 5 -7, 2021.

You can support Izzy and the ABQ Grub Crawl several ways! From August 5-7, 2021, Izzy and her team of volunteers will be picking up donations across the city of Albuquerque. To donate food, email ABQgrubcrawl@gmail.com and tell Izzy your address and what day you would like the food to be picked up. Great items to donate include tuna, soups, canned fruits and vegetables, or peanut butter. Please don’t send glass containers, and make sure your items will be safe outside for several hours.

Don’t have extra non-perishable foods at home? You can purchase donations and drop them off at the following Albertsons Market locations during these dates/times:

  • Thursday, August 5 — 5:00 – 8:00pm
    Albertsons Market, 10131 Coors Rd. NW
  • Thursday, August 5 — 5:00 – 8:00pm
    Albertsons Market, 6200 Coors Rd. NW
  • Friday, August 6 — 5:00 – 8:00pm
    Albertsons Market, 8100 Ventura St. NE
  • Saturday, August 7 — 5:00 – 8:00pm
    Albertsons Market, 12201 Academy Rd. NE

Don’t have time to shop? The simplest way to support Izzy and the Storehouse is to make a monetary donation on our website.  Your financial gifts help the Storehouse to purchase other food items that help our clients can maintain a well-balanced diet. Fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables, meats, and dairy products can’t be donated through the ABQ Grub Crawl since they’re perishable. But your generosity can help us get them for our families and that is appreciated.

Inspired to Give Back

About six months ago, Izzy was scrolling on Amazon, looking for the last gift she had to buy for Christmas, her Grandpa’s. As soon as she saw it, she knew she had the perfect gift: a black tee shirt that said “Gampy: the man, the myth, the legend.” Ben had a lot of titles in this world: an avid businessman, a charitable donor, a persistent texter, husband, Dad, and Gampy. But no statement embodied how Izzy feels about him better than this tee shirt. His kindness and generosity have inspired Izzy to give back. Including her work with ABQ Grub Crawl this year.

The Storehouse would not exist today without our big-hearted champions like Izzy and her Gampy. Ben Romero passed away on January 22, 2021. In his last text message to Izzy, he said: “I am so, so, very, very proud of you!!!” The team at the Storehouse couldn’t agree more.

We are so proud of you, Izzy, and the work you are doing. ABQ Grub Crawl will feed thousands of hungry New Mexicans this year, thanks to your unceasing generosity of heart.

If you, hearing Izzy’s story, are inspired to give back, please consider taking part in the ABQ Grub Crawl this year. Or, help us spread the word about this city-wide food drive to your friends, neighbors, and local businesses. Thank you!

Learn more about the ABQ Grub Crawl, set up your fundraising team, and more.