Here's how to help your fellow Houstonians during the holiday season
Thus far, 2020 has been a pretty ugly affair for nearly everyone. Shuttered businesses. Lost jobs. The solitude of working from home. There are two silver linings, though. One, this year is nearly behind us. And two, for those who feel a keen sense of community connection, there are numerous ways to share time and treasure this holiday season, helping Houstonians in need.
Food for life
Every $1 donation to the Houston Food Bank helps provide three meals to food insecure individuals in 18 southeast Texas counties. Its success is incredible, feeding nearly 93,000 households every week. But the work is impossible without the donations of time and treasure from thousands of individuals, businesses, and organizations. From giving food to giving time, there are multiple ways to help this nonprofit continue its vital mission to those in need.
Southern Smoke's motto is "Taking care of our own." The nonprofit, launched by Houston chef Chris Shepherd in 2015, donates to hospitality professionals in crisis around the country. The organization's emergency relief fund has provided nearly $5 million in aid. From monetary donations to sponsorships to underwriting events, there are plenty of ways to get involved.
Spread holiday cheer
BEAR (Be A Resource)'s Bearing Gifts initiative provides brand-new holiday gifts to children in the CPS program. Often the only gifts these children will receive, BEAR has helped bring holiday cheer to 10,000 kids every year. Monetary donations are accepted, but donors can also sponsor a child, host toy drives or drop off gifts. Full details are online.
This year's Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston's Santa Project set a record, collecting donations and toys to fulfill the wish lists of more than 1,100 kids and teens. While collections for the program are officially closed — gifts were delivered last week — those wishing to help can still donate to the organization, which provides programming and support to children and teenagers across the Houston area.
Interfaith Ministries, known for its Meals on Wheels program, which feeds nearly 5,000 home-bound seniors every day, is creating holiday gift bags for those it serves. The organization is including most-requested items like socks and gloves, along with toiletries, crossword puzzle books and more. Donate online or call 713-533-4900 to give over the phone or learn more.
Care for kids
Every day in Houston, one in four preschool-aged children have no reliable source of nutritious food. This food insecurity can affect their performance in school, and can lead to an increase in childhood obesity and depression. That's where Kids' Meals steps in. The organization delivers free meals to Houston's neediest children. This year alone, they'll make and deliver 1.3 million meals to hungry Houston kids under the age of six. There are several holiday giving options for those wanting to help. Donors can adopt a family, host a gift card drive, help create DIY lunch kits and more.
The Periwinkle Foundation works with pediatric cancer patients and their families, helping to provide support and programs to these most vulnerable patients. The organization recently teamed up with H-E-B to offer a limited-edition reusable shopping bag. The bags showcase the artwork of kids undergoing treatment at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, and are designed to foster awareness about childhood cancer and blood disorders. The shopping bags are available at H-E-B locations for $1.50 each. Of course, donations to the foundation are also welcome, as are volunteers for those who want a more hands-on approach to helping the community.
The Houston Music Foundation, a non-profit founded by Mark C. Austin and his wife Rachel Austin, raises funds for Harris County musicians and industry professionals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides one-time grants for those who are out of work or otherwise sidelined by the shuttering of gigs and arts jobs due to the ongoing health crisis. The organization has already distributed more than $80,000 in grants, and its most recent grant application process launched on December 16. HMF looks to distribute the next round of funding by Christmas Day. Donate to their efforts here. Those who want to apply for grant can do so online.
HFM grew out of Artists for Artists, a non-profit founded to help Houston's creative community. From providing emergency relief grants to offering assistance with finding health care, the organization has, to date, donated more than $540,000 to Houston artists. As the pandemic drives on, the need to assistance grows. Those wishing to help Houston's creative community can donate online, host fundraisers or buy art.
For the animals
The Lance McCullers Foundation, created by Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., and his wife, Kara, has a lofty goal: to help make Houston a no-kill city when it comes to homeless animals. The foundation donates monies and helps provide resources for organizations in the city that offer per foster programs and provide forever homes for animals in need. Learn how to get involved and make a donation here. Other organizations who need help this holiday season include Rescued Pets Movement, Best Friends — Houston, Houston Pet Set, Citizens for Animals Protection, and the Houston SPCA.