Whether you are a natural giver — one of those noble souls who prefers presenting to receiving gifts — or a more average Joe, for whom a small altruistic gesture just feels good, we’ve listed several charities that make a difference in our neighborhood. Any of them could benefit from a tad of your time or money.[toggle_box] [toggle_item title=”POVERTY & HOMELESSNESS”]
Homeless men and women from East Dallas and greater Dallas
The SoupMobile is a faith-based, mobile soup kitchen based in Deep Ellum that provides food and shelter for Dallas-area homeless. Every year it serves more than 200,000 meals and shelters homeless people in its eight group homes. For 10 years, SoupMobile has been hosting an event called Celebrate Jesus, in which they take up to 500 homeless men, women and children off the streets and put them up in the downtown Dallas Omni Hotel for Christmas. During the event, the guests receive new clothes and gifts and are treated to a banquet.
Be one of the more than 2,500 volunteers who will help at the Omni Hotel on Christmas. You can be a greeter, a server, a Christmas Angel who assists the guests throughout their stay at the Omni, a part of the set-up crew, a movie host, or one of the on-call nurses or doctors.
Money, clothing, kitchenware, electronics, furniture, appliances or other high-quality items
The estimated 25,000-50,000 people in Dallas who suffer every year because they can’t afford a doctor-prescribed wheelchair, hospital bed or other medical equipment necessary for recovery from injury or illness and, ultimately, for independence
This East Dallas-based charity collects, sanitizes and refurbishes used medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, bedside commodes and mobility equipment, with the goal of relieving the pain and suffering of people with acute injury or illness. This is one of only two nonprofits in Texas that provide this service.
Though DME employs professionals, they could not operate without the help of volunteers. Those willing to donate time/expertise should register for the volunteer training course via the DME website.
Each donated dollar goes directly toward refurbishing, sanitizing and distributing essential and life-enhancing equipment to individuals who qualify for the DME program. Give money online via a secure form, or mail a check to DME Exchange of Dallas at the post office box listed below.
Also, give by shopping at Kroger using the grocer’s customer loyalty card. If you have a Kroger Plus card, call 800.576.4377, visit kroger.com or customer service in the store, and request to link your Kroger Plus card with the DME identification number: 35161. Then, when you use the card at checkout, a portion of what you spend will benefit your chosen nonprofit.
Donate manual or powered wheelchairs, walkers, canes, bedside equipment, crutches or scooters. Call for help transporting heavy gear or deliver items to the office.
Homeless men and women from East Dallas and greater Dallas
Every week, Our Calling sends out search-and-rescue teams to offer food, water and other emergency supplies to the homeless individuals they encounter. The nonprofit is based in a 3,200-square-foot facility in East Dallas, which was designed to be a sort of “café for the homeless” because it provides a welcoming place for hundreds of men and women to gather during the day. The facility serves lunch every day and provides people with survival necessities such as clothing, blankets and hygiene items. Our Calling also has a washer and dryer, and a shower available for guests to use.
Volunteer: There are volunteer opportunities available for groups or individuals. Our Calling is currently seeking mentors, hotline volunteers, recovered addicts and Bible study leaders.
Our Calling is seeking coats, blankets, deodorant, hand sanitizer, men’s and women’s underwear, and men’s shoes in sizes 9 and up.
500 S. Haskell
[/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”CULTURE & NATURE”]
White Rock Lake and its users
FTLOTL organizes several area improvement programs including a weekly cleanup day and the Adopt-a-Shoreline movement, through which neighborhood groups and businesses take responsibility for the maintenance of sections of the park. FTLOTL’s Celebration Tree Grove project sells memorial plaques in a forested shoreline patch, and the proceeds benefit reforestation efforts.
Join the shoreline cleanup efforts, which take place each Saturday morning beginning at 8 a.m. at the FTLOTL office. Volunteers are also needed in grant writing, fundraising, marketing, administrative activities and more. Call, email or visit the website or office for more details.
Donate online or purchase a tree grove memorial plaque.
Lis Akin, executive director
1152 N. Buckner, Suite 123 (office hours are Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon)
Dallas area artists and wannabe artists
The Creative Arts Center (CAC) of Dallas is an East Dallas-based nonprofit that provides a home base for neighbors who want to discover or develop their artistic leanings. CAC has been offering a slew of class options at its two-acre campus near White Rock Lake for more than 50 years. From ceramics to fused glass to photography to jewelry making, if you want to learn it, someone probably teaches it.
Art supplies, scrap metal, tile for the mosaic department, or donate online at
Teen pregnancy is a common factor in poverty, which is a cycle Alley’s House is working to break by offering physical and emotional support services while teaching parenting and other important life skills. Allison Whitehead founded the program in 1997 after she saw teen moms dropping out of school. Through the completion of 80 lessons in 80 weeks at Alley’s House, teen moms can earn their GED and receive mentoring. “We are helping them invent their life and create choice,” Whitehead explains. “They go from no choice to full choice, so it’s really cool to see the look on their faces when they have that ah-ha moment of power and choice, of ‘Wow, I can actually make this decision, and I can do it.’ ”
Through one-on-one tutoring, mentor
a mom working to earn her GED. Assist with career preparation through activities such as Microsoft Office training, resumes, on-the-job office training and applications. Offer childcare while teen moms study, or help as a workshop facilitator.
In addition to monetary donations, Alley’s House can use gift cards, young women’s business casual attire, toddler clothing, laundry detergent and dish soap, hygiene products for children and teens, non-perishable food items, Ziploc baggies and diapers size 4 and 5.
Rachel Branaman, executive director
Young women who are 18 to 22 years old and have aged out of the foster care system.
The statistics on life after foster care are staggeringly bleak. According to the Foster Care Alumni of America, 84 percent of young men and women become a parent within two to four years after leaving foster care. Not only that, 51 percent are unemployed, 50 percent are homeless, 30 percent are receiving public assistance, and 25 percent are in prison. Sabrina Porter, the CEO of Juliette Fowler Communities, is working to change those statistics through the Ebby House at Juliette Fowler Homes, a community designed to help young women who are aging out of the foster care system navigate the pitfalls and find a successful future. Up to 16 young women at a time can live in a residential home on the Fowler grounds for 12-24 months under the guidance of a house mom. The Ebby House staff will work with the girls to help them learn life skills such as health and wellness, personal finance, communication and technology. They also receive career guidance, opportunities for education beyond a GED, job training and volunteerism.
To learn how you can support The Ebby House and impact the lives of young women who have aged out of foster care, contact Ann McKinley.
Breast cancer survivors, by funding reconstruction surgeries for uninsured women and/or women who cannot afford reconstructive services
Woodrow graduate Carol Autry founded this outreach; her mother, Doris Daniely, kept her illness a secret until it was too late. “She was the sweetest, most giving person you’d ever meet,” Autry says. “We never entirely understood why she didn’t tell us she had cancer — maybe because she didn’t want to trouble anyone. Maybe she was in denial, thinking it would go away. We still don’t really know.” Autry finally convinced her mother to see a doctor. The learned cancer had spread through Daniely’s breast. She died two months later. Autry was devastated, but she promptly returned to her job in the plastic surgery office of doctors Carpenter and Morales at Baylor. There, she encounters cancer patients almost daily. “They came through all the time — mostly women who need to have a mastectomy, but who don’t have the means for reconstructive surgery afterward.” Autry says she thought about these women constantly. All told, it costs about $100,000 for breast reconstruction surgery. Autry and her coworkers frequently complained to each other: “Somebody should do something to help them.” One night, she says, she thought to herself, “I am somebody.” It’s not easy to start a nonprofit, but along with likeminded partners (a few fellow Woodrow grads), she founded the Doris Daniely Outreach for Breast Reconstruction in honor of her mom. Each year the foundation funds reconstructive surgery for several women.
Volunteer: The outreach employs no paid staff and relies entirely on volunteers. Needs vary — anyone interested in helping should email or call the center.
Several events throughout the year support the nonprofit. Each February members host a fundraising tea at the Dallas Arboretum. Information about 2015 events will be announced soon on the organization’s website.
Administrative costs are minimal and primarily related to fundraising event costs including venue charges, invitations and postage, web maintenance and the like. Give any amount online via PayPal.
Women with alcohol and narcotic addictions
East Dallas nonprofit Nexus Recovery Center focuses specifically on helping women, adolescent girls aged 13 to 17 and their families overcome alcohol or narcotic addictions. There are only a handful of substance treatment agencies in the country that allow women to bring their children into treatment. In 1990, Nexus became one of them. When the leaders realized that childcare was a major barrier between women and treatment, they decided to open their doors to families. This also allows Nexus to work with the children to help them navigate their emotional and developmental issues.
Volunteer: Every week, Nexus needs one or two classroom helpers to assist the Dallas ISD teachers in the adolescent classroom. Neighbors can also serve as mentors for the teenage girls through activities and emotional support. For those with less time to commit, Nexus also needs general office help.
The center needs infant formula and diapers, maternity clothes, toiletries, office supplies, grocery gift cards, bus passes, school supplies, school uniforms, twin bed comforters, jeans in all sizes, women’s casual shoes and infant cribs.
Grieving adults, teens and children in the White Rock area and greater Dallas
Sitting at the table with the Grief and Loss Center group (a non-religious organization that meets at Wilshire Baptist Church) is at once heartbreaking and life affirming. A 90-year-old cries openly as he discusses the death of his wife of 75 years. A young mother who lost her child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome comforts him. Before Jennifer Hibdon helped found this group, her own parents committed suicide. The faces at the table change session by session, but there is always a mingling of sorrow and hope. This is just as it should be, says Laurie Taylor, co-founder, along with Hibdon, of the Grief and Loss Center of North Texas. “Agony and joy can live in the heart at the same time,” says Taylor, a grief and loss specialist certified in thanatology, the study of death, dying and bereavement. “You don’t get over it. Time does not heal it. Instead you learn to live with the loss, and it becomes part of the fabric of your life.”
Volunteer: Serve as a helper in a children’s grief group at a local elementary school. Prepare a cake or cookies for an event. Make heart pillows for children and teen groups. Assist with office duties.
Each November, the Grief and Loss Center hosts a dinner and silent auction. Details related to the 2015 event will be announced on the website.
Donate amazon.com gift cards for research books, postage stamps, copy paper, arts and crafts supplies and bottled water. Pay cash or check via the website or mail.
Laurie Taylor, executive director
[/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”ANIMALS”]
East Lake Pet Orphanage is a no-kill, non-profit organization that houses dozens of Dallas dogs and cats, many of which need rehabilitation. Second Chance Treasures at 10101 Garland is an antique store owned and operated by ELPO. When you buy antiques and collectables at the shop, sales support the shelter.
Volunteer: The shelter needs people to provide exercise to the animals (aka dog walkers and cat cuddlers) as well as volunteers to help with special events.
It can cost $200 or more to care for one animal, so the shelter relies heavily on monetary donations for rehabilitation efforts. You also can give items such as new towels, blankets, sheets and pet beds; collars, leashes and harnesses; and safe toys. The office also needs a laptop and high-volume color scanner or printer.
10101 E. Northwest Hwy.
[/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”FAMILIES & CHILDREN”]
Children in Dallas who have been placed in foster care
Right now in Dallas, there are almost 2,000 children who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Dallas CASA, which is based in East Dallas, is full of hundreds of volunteers who are working within the court system to make sure those children are placed in safe homes.
CASA volunteers undergo 30 hours of initial training and 12 hours of continuing education each year. Each volunteer advocate works with a CASA staff supervisor who provides guidance throughout the court process.
You can give monetary donations, as well as Target, Wal-Mart or Payless Shoes gift certificates to cover necessities or gifts for children. CASA also accepts gift certificates to restaurants, movies or sporting events to use during visits with children. Phone calling cards allow children to stay in touch with siblings and their CASA volunteer.
Low-income seniors, age 67+, who need assistance caring for their pets
White Rock area resident Adelle Taylor founded SPAN a few years ago when she learned that financially strapped older adults were being forced to give up their pets, who often are their sole companions. Taylor says there is a tremendous amount of research showing that pets help people in a lot of ways, both mentally and physically. “I like to think of SPAN as not just a pet and people helper, but also a prescription for better health,” she says.
Help maintain the pet pantry, deliver pet food, maintain client/volunteer lists or become a board member.
Donated dollars go directly toward helping clients maintain the health of their pets through vet visits and food purchases. Donate with Pay Pal on the website or by check to the post office box.
Laurie Jennings, president
P.O. Box 821173, Dallas, Texas 75382-1173
[/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”REFUGEES”]
Through its immigration and legal services program, families and individuals pursuing American citizenship (Catholic Charities offers multiple other programs for local women, children, men and families in need.)
The Immigration and Legal Services (ILS) of Catholic Charities of Dallas was established in 1975 in response to the growing number of immigrants moving to our area. Caseworkers help clients understand the immigration law and their rights. Services include assistance with family visas, representation of survivors of domestic violence and violent crimes, support for refugees and asylees and for custodians of unaccompanied children, to name a few.
Register online for the next available orientation session. Internships are also available.
The refugee resettlement program is in need of donations of new and gently used household items and furniture. Donations of paper towels, can openers, pots and pans, glasses, mugs and other housewares will directly assist in the setup of apartments for refugees arriving in Dallas.
Catholic Charities of Dallas at Brady Center
Refugees and asylum seekers who are survivors of torture in East Dallas and greater Dallas
The East Dallas-based nonprofit Center for Survivors of Torture is a first responder that aims to address the mental health needs of these survivors. The center facilitates healing and helps ease the transition into new beginnings. It provides specialized services to address the psychological, medical and social needs of survivors through services such as legal referrals, training opportunities and state-of-the-art professional service delivery.
Get involved through client support, special event planning, administrative assignments and other positions.
From $25 to $5,000 donations, you can help provide survivors with bus passes, medication, food, wound care, housing assistance or mental health services.
Celia VanDeGraaf, M.A., executive director
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.