"I had no idea who she was. She just was carrying on a conversation like her and I knew each other for years," a community center volunteer who spoke to the Duchess of Sussex told BuzzFeed News.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, places flowers as she mourns at a makeshift memorial outside Uvalde County Courthouse in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26, 2022.
UVALDE, Texas — Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, on Thursday visited Uvalde, Texas, where she donated food at a community center hosting a blood drive and laid flowers at a memorial for the victims of the elementary school shooting that killed 21 people, including 19 children.
BuzzFeed News spoke with volunteers at the Herby Ham Activity Center who accepted the duchess's donations. Photographers captured images of Meghan at the memorial site.
According to blood drive volunteers, Meghan, wearing a baseball cap and a black mask, quietly dropped by the community center's kitchen to drop off two "large" crates filled with sandwiches, beverages, and desserts for blood donors.
"I had no idea who she was. She just was carrying on a conversation like her and I knew each other for years," volunteer Gloria Contreras, 40, told BuzzFeed News. "We were just talking about, you know, the situation and what happened what we were doing here. I told her about us giving out water to the people and feeding them."
"I even talked about my personal life, telling her about my son and my family and, you know, coming to Texas because she told me she was from Santa Barbara and I said, 'Well, you need to come to Texas!'" Contreras said. "We were talking about Texas and Uvalde and how it is to be in a small town and how everybody is so kind and warm-hearted and know we know each other and stuff and how the faith is deep-rooted."
A Sussex representative confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the duchess traveled to Uvalde "in a personal capacity as a mother" in order to offer "her condolences and support in person to a community experiencing unimaginable grief."
Meghan Markle with volunteers at a community center hosting a blood drive in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26, 2022.
"She was just really sweet," another volunteer, Georjean Burnell, 46, told BuzzFeed News. "She just kind of walked in with her [security] crew and started putting ice waters in the bucket with us and laying out chips for the people who were needing snacks before and after donating."
"It's funny, we didn't even know it was her until after she left and now we're so sad. I mean, to be honest, we thought she was our neighbor."
Meghan pays respect at a makeshift memorial outside Uvalde County Courthouse on May 26, 2022.
Correction: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, donated two crates filled with food, beverages, and desserts. A previous version of this post misstated the donation.
Kadia Goba is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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