Adopt a kid this holiday season, impact your own

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season as a child was always the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. Every year, Mom would take me to go pick angels off the tree. We’d choose a boy near my age to adopt and I’d lead Mom through the clothing and toy departments, getting exactly what I thought that kid would want. Shopping for someone else my age was always a really exciting – and empowering – experience. I dreamt all year about that moment on Christmas morning when I opened my presents and was fortunate enough to always get exactly what I wanted. Being able to create for someone else the one thing I looked forward to all year made me feel like I could do anything.

It’s a testament to how impactful that experience was to me as a kid that I still remember it so vividly, three weeks away (!!!) from graduating from UT. If you’ve got children, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more meaningful way to spend the holidays with them. Of course, you don’t need to have your own kids to make someone else’s happy.

Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to make someone’s holiday season. We’ve chronicled them in the latest GivingCity. If you’re short on cash, most of these events are looking for volunteers. If you’re short on time, most accept donations toward toy purchasing. No matter what you’ve got going on, you’ve got the opportunity to make the holidays happen for someone.

Remarkable Austinites who just happen to your need help getting food

Sarah Andrews of Meals on Wheels and More wrote me last week with lots of great news about this longstanding organization. First the biggest news was that it is going to be the recipient of the money raised by next year’s Capital 10K race, which last year raised more than $180,000 for University Medical Center Brackenridge. (This is the best race I’ve ever run in Austin, BTW. Very well run.)

The other very big news is that the organization will premiere its documentary, “Wisdom in Their Own Words,” on Monday, November 17, and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, complete with a red carpet for some of the “stars” from the documentary.

Recently, Meals on Wheels and More, Time Warner Cable, Texas Crew and Dan Rather teamed up to help tell the life stories of seven MOWAM clients, who have lived through some of the most trying times of the past century and whose words provide a unique and important perspective on the history of Austin and the importance of services like Meals on Wheels and More in so many people’s lives.

Do you know how people always say they want to have good stories to tell when they’re old? That’s what this documentary is all about. It will introduce you to some people you might have seen and ignored around Austin, and they will blow you away with their stories. These are the kind of stories an older person might tell you that make you want to go out and get a life, too.

There’s the man who lived through desegregation in Austin and four wars. There’s the woman who was a foster parent to more than 200 children. And there’s the man who was a POW for three years and marched three days with a wounded leg to keep from being shot.

What have you done with your life so far?

Sarah continues…

And we’re in the middle of a $5 million building expansion campaign. Based on population projections from the city demographer, we expect that we will need to prepare 2.1 million meals by 2020 to keep up with the demand for services – over twice what we prepare now. The addition to our building will allow us to primarily expand our kitchen facilities and client services department.

The least we can do is help these people and other Central Texans like them. They aren’t mobile enough to get their own meals, and that’s where MOWAM comes in. Consider donating and/or volunteering…. or at least watching the documentary.

However you go, you’ll learn a lot about Austin.

Sat Oct 11: Help raise money to “green” low-income homes

Installing gutters, downspouts, and a rain barrel

Installing gutters, downspouts, and a rain barrel

The nonprofit formerly known as 1 House at a Time, now Rays of Hope, is having its first-ever fundraiser this Saturday, from 6 to 10 pm. Here’s why you need to pay attention to this organization and consider attending.

1. Rays of Hope helps low-income and elderly homeowners reduce their energy bills, sometimes by 50%. It does this by transforming these homes to be water and energy efficient.

2. Rays of Hope teaches homeowners to be more water and energy efficient to further the energy and cost savings.

3. Homeowners aren’t the only ones who benefit. You can volunteer to help in the “greening” and learn weatherization and energy-saving strategies as you work.

4. This is grassroots, y’all. Everyone’s welcome. The main menu will feature a fish fry, but they’ll also have brisket and pizza, plus a silent auction. They’re looking for a $15 per person donation, with kids under 12 free. All donations go to the home renovations for four Austin families.

Learn more about Rays of Hope and register to attend the event this Saturday night. Bring a friend.

GivingCity Issue 1: Download it here!

Please feel free to send this link to a friend of colleague. Also, thanks for adding us to your media list – we’d love to hear more about your organization and cause.

To download your copy, just click on the cover or on the link below. Please let us know what you think. Feel free to send me any feedback or post a comment below.

(File size 5MB)

The guide to doing good in Austin
The guide to doing good in Austin