A friend of mine recently told me a story about a family at her school who was the recipient of a lot of charitable giving every year. Each Thanksgiving parents collected donations for their turkey dinner, helped the family with Christmas gifts and bought their kids winter jackets and new bikes. One day, late in the carpool line, she recognized the mother of the kids running to school to drop off something off, the mom was driving the same car as my friend, a Porsche Cayenne.
Unfortunately this story is not uncommon, our hearts are particularly open this time of year, and we want to make less fortunate families’ holiday season brighter. But how can you make sure your hard-earned money and valuable donations of gently used toys, clothing and housewares are going to those who truly deserve it? We have done some of the legwork for you to identify those organizations that have been properly vetted by Charity Watch and involve local programs with a solid reputation for responsible distribution. Here are some opportunities to consider if you want to give this holiday.
Covenant House Texas is the only shelter in Texas for homeless, abused and abandoned youth ages 18 – 24. Often the clients they serve come with children of their own. Clients of Covenant House are provided with the necessary skills, training, and emotional support to choose positive life alternatives and develop into self-sufficient adults. You can adopt a resident and provide two of the following items for men or women. Their requests are:
$50 Target Giftcard
$50 Amazon Giftcard
Residents with children ages 0-5 are asking for toys & books. Gently used items are accepted. Drop off hours are Monday through Friday 9-5 , labeled: “Christmas Wishes & Attention: Courtney Khorrami. These items are needed by: Tuesday, December 2 or sooner. Drop off address is 1111 Lovett Blvd. Houston 77006
The YMCA Angel Tree program is a unique opportunity to walk into any YMCA, pick an ornament off their lobby tree and take it to the Welcome Center to get a wish list for items requested by needy families this Christmas. Then you bring the new, unwrapped toys to the same YMCA Welcome Center no later than December 9.
The Mission of Yahweh is a 501c3 shelter that has been empowering, enriching and restoring the lives of homeless women and children and providing outreach services to low-income communities since 1961. This year their current goal is to raise $30,000 to cover costs for gifts and essentials for over 105 women and 130 children this Christmas. Click here to donate.
If you would like to adopt a family through the Mission you can learn about them and view their wish lists here. This opportunity allows you to donate directly online so you don’t have to worry about purchasing the items yourself and delivering them.
SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures is a charity near and dear to my heart. It is a daycare center for homeless families whose parents are looking for work or actively working. The adorable kiddos they serve are cared for during the day while their parents are out working to try and provide a secure and stable future for their families.
Learn how you can contribute to SEARCH’s efforts to continue their success in leading the nation in reducing homelessness here.
Gracewood offers a home-like environment where family well-being is restored while moms work toward specific, individual goals.
Gracewood’s campus is located in Houston’s Spring Branch area and can serve up to 15 single mothers and their children. They are currently expanding the campus and programs to ultimately serve up to 31 families. Gracewood’s programs offers counseling, job training, positive parenting techniques, and other life-skills training needed for successful independent living.
Click here to learn how you can support their mission to provide refuge, support and a hand up to struggling single mom families.
Lastly, working directly in Spring Branch ISD schools, Communities In Schools of Houston builds relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life. It’s school-based staff partner with teachers to identify challenges students face in class or at home and coordinate with community partners to bring outside resources inside schools. From immediate needs like food or clothing to more complex ones like counseling or emotional support, we do whatever it takes to help students succeed. If you’d like to help, contact: Diana Dominguez, Field Director, Communities In School of Houston, firstname.lastname@example.org at 713-582-3114.