The Joy of Giving
As the year draws to a close, our DIstrict 6 office wishes you and yours a most wonderful holiday break for Thanksgiving. Elsewhere on this blog, we’ve updated our list of local D6 (or very close by) restaurants and shops to help make your holiday meal a tasty breeze. But this post is about giving.
During this season, many folks ask us about local opportunities to help neighbors in need. Communications Associate Frankie Calhoun scoured local listings and sites to create this list. We hope that this spirit of giving rolls beyond the holidays and into the coming year as well. Folks have needs year-round, and the chance to give does not end with the last turn of the calendar page.
The listings below are sorted alphabetically (with the exception of the first one). They are either general calls for assistance or specific date events – from nonprofit service organizations and social groups to faith communities. You don’t need to belong to a specific church to volunteer through a church or with a faith-based organization. Getting involved in these programs and events is a great way to meet your neighbors, help your community, make new friends, and honestly just spread the love.
– Kate Messer, D6 Communications Director
Thanks: Giving Opportunities
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: ECHO Point in Time Count is the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition’s annual count of Austin’s population experiencing homelessness happening early in the morning of January 25, 2020. Volunteers will disperse into the community in the wee hours, carrying bags of supplies to give out to those in need while performing the count. The count is vital to receiving federal funding for our neighbors in need and provides an opportunity for volunteers to better understand life without housing. Can’t volunteer for the PIT count? Donate or host your own funding and supply drive.
Angels Afoot Gift Drive Riverbend Church’s Christmas Gift Drive for kids in foster care, shelters, and other unfortunate circumstances. Pick a tag with gift suggestions on it, and give a child a joyful holiday. Volunteers and donations also accepted.
Asian Family Support Services of Austin (AFSSA, formerly SAHELI) envisions healthy, abuse-free Asian communities. This nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas, provides assistance to Asian and other immigrant families dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking.
Austin Diaper Bank partners with 35 agencies in Central Texas, including the Salvation Army Austin Shelter for Women and Children. The Diaper Bank takes diapers, wipes, period supplies, and monetary donations. There are individual and group volunteer opportunities in their warehouse.
Bethany House of Friends at Bethany United Methodist Church provides a faith-based, safe space for caregivers and their loved ones with dementia. The space and services are offered free of cost through donations. House of Friends is always in need of BINGO prize donations. Click here for a list of suggested items.
Brown Santa is the Travis County Sheriff’s gift and food drive for families in need. Click the link for a list of suggested donation items and volunteer opportunities in the warehouse.
Caritas Volunteer by serving lunch in the community kitchen, working with clients directly, providing administrative support to staff members, or helping with donation deliveries and pick-ups. Host a food drive or even throw an event with proceeds going to Caritas (or other organizations of your choosing).
Casa Marianella helps Austin’s displaced immigrant population through medical resources, ESL classes, food, clothing, shelter and so much more. They accept men’s clothing and household item donations as well. While in East Austin, Casa Marianella’s work is unique and fills a very present gap in area services.
Central Texas Food Bank has partners that are matching every holiday donation, dollar for dollar. Your $5 donation would be $10!
Coats for Kids Austin Junior League coordinates this annual coat drive. Drop off new or gently used coats at any Jack Brown Cleaners location. You can also donate ($20 buys a coat) and volunteer.
Covenant United Methodist Church has a food pantry that feeds over 100 families every Wednesday evening, staffed by volunteers. Your generous donation funds other services including a Free Store and health checks with a nurse.
Foundation for the Homeless needs volunteers to help clean and serve breakfast every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-7am downtown. Donate here.
Front Steps Volunteer opportunities include helping local churches run emergency shelters in extreme weather, working the mail and hygiene desk, kitchen prepping and serving, and working the resource desk.
Gateway Church North Volunteer in the Community Food Pantry or in their organic garden that provides food for the Pantry. No sign up needed, just show up Saturdays 8:30-11am and they will find some work for you.
Habitat for Humanity Donate to a ReStore or volunteer time building houses
Heaven’s Harvest (In north Austin near Rundberg & Metric) Hosts a pantry and offers respite to homeless and formerly incarcerated men and women.
Hill Country Community Ministries: Donate money, food, clothes, household items, a vehicle, or volunteer in the food pantry, thrift store, daily bread pick-up, grounds and facilities maintenance, truck drivers
Hope Presbyterian Check their list of volunteer opportunities.
Islamic Ahlul Bayt Association This Muslim community center in the Los Indios neighborhood offers charity (Sadqah) through worshipers and neighbors generous donations, then dispersed to people in need distributed by their Welfare Committee.
LifeWorks Provides a sustainable pathway to to self-sufficiency for homeless youth, young parents, and youth who are aging out of the foster system. Want to help this amazing organization? Host a gift card drive or donate.
Meals on Wheels In addition to distributing nourishing meals to those in need, this beloved organization added more to their mission to assist folks aging in place, including: In-Home Care, Senior Pet Care, Home Repair, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Respite Programs, and more.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes Food truck ministry = opportunities to go into the community and provide food and dignity through kindness.
The Other Ones Foundation Provides work opportunities to those experiencing homelessness and has a day shelter in South Austin. They pay those who would otherwise be panhandling $15 an hour and provide transportation to the work site and lunch. Click on the link to donate to this creatively helpful organization.
Operation Blue Santa Gift drive for area children started by Austin Police Department that includes the Texas National Guard, Austin Fire Department, Austin Water, and Austin Energy. The most needed gifts are for kids aged 11-14. Click the link to find out how to donate.
Operation Turkey On Thanksgiving, deliver food and care packages to homeless, from a neighboring North Austin location in D10.
Reach Church Faith-based Serve Day, providing volunteer opportunities to give away food to people in need. Check the website for ways to get involved. The event will have a bounce house, music, and a lot more.
Tomlinson’s Pound for Pound Food Drive Each pet food bag donated by a customer between November 20 through Christmas Eve is doubled – pound for pound – by pet food makers.
Trinity Center at St. David’s Episcopal Church Become a part of the Radical Hospitality movement! This downtown center was founded by volunteers (some notable D6 neighbors are in the mix) and is based on a model of action through volunteerism. Click the link to learn about the variety of programs they offer throughout the week, in need of volunteers and funding.
Still unsure which organization best fits your time and energy? Visit Givepulse, an Austin-based company that connects volunteers with volunteer opportunities.
Check this page over the next few weeks for updates as they come in.