A Holiday Guide to Good Causes


To celebrate the season of giving, add a good cause to your family’s holiday shopping list this year. Our list of 30 South Texas organizations offers dozens of ways to help fill their wish lists for helping kids and families in need.
“Giving to other families is a value you can teach your children that goes a long way,” says Yesenia Gonzalez, director of parenting programs at Avance, which serves San Antonio families with young children. “You’re a role model for your children. When they’re out there in their careers and wanting to give back to the community, it can start with something like this. It’s a ripple effect.”
Each year, ChildSafe helps hundreds of Bexar County children traumatized by abuse and neglect. “To meet their needs and assist them during a very stressful time, we rely on donations from individuals and corporations alike,” says ChildSafe CEO Kim Abernethy. “We couldn’t do our work without the generosity of the community.”
Bandera County Helping Hand delivers boxes of food to Texas Hill Country families each month, runs a community health clinic, offers parenting classes and referral services, and stocks clothing for kids and grownups in need.
Families can donate time, contribute used items to the organization’s thrift store or send gift cards “because there’s a lot of things we can’t keep in stock,” says executive director Jesse Parks. “There’s all kinds of neat ways they can contribute,” she says.
Communities in Schools of San Antonio works at 70 public schools to help kids with school supplies, after-school programs and other services. Trained site managers help at-risk kids as part of a program that aims to ultimately lower school dropout rates.
Financial contributions are especially welcome this year, says marketing director Felisha Sanchez. “We need more case managers to be in more schools,” she says.


Here are 30 ways to get in on the giving for a good cause this holiday season:

Any Baby Can assists families with infants and children through age any12 who are suffering from chronic illness, disability or developmental delay. The organization needs financial contributions, volunteers, diapers and formula. For the holidays, the nonprofit needs unwrapped toys or games for ages 1 to 18, movie tickets and gift cards. For more information, visit AnyBabyCanSA.org or call 210-227-0170.

The Arc of San Antonio has served children and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities for more than 60 years. This nonprofit helps more than 6,000 people a year with day programs, school liaison services and outreach programs. The Arc needs financial contributions, volunteers and gently used household items. Visit Arc-SA.org or call 210-490-4300 for more information.

Assistance League of San Antonio served more than 64,000 people last year, including kids, families and seniors. Your family can help with a financial contribution or donations of housewares, linens, books, furniture and other items to stock the Assistance League Thrift House. For more information, call 210-732-1200 or visit AssistanceLeagueSA.org.

Avance has been helping San Antonio families for over 4 decades. The organization provides parenting classes and early education programs for children ages 3 and younger. And, because Avance serves everyone in the family, winter jackets and sweaters in all sizes are needed. Fill a single wish list for an Avance family or donate new and/or used items for the Avance Tiendita (little store). Strollers, pre-school books, household items, baby supplies and push toys are also on the Avance wish list. For more information, visit AvanceSA.org or call 210-220-1788.

Bandera County Helping Hand helps families in need with food deliveries, a community clinic, a clothes closet for kids and grownups and holiday events. You can help with cash contributions, clothing and canned food or donate gently used items to the organization’s thrift store. Help is also needed to wrap and deliver presents during the holidays. For more information, visit BanderaCountyHelpingHand.com or call 830-796-8300.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas matches mentors with children ages 5 to 21. The group needs financial contributions and volunteers. Parents and tech savvy kids can also help by setting up a Friends Asking Friends website. The organization will help you set up your website and provide online tools to manage it. Then, just email friends with your website address to start collecting donations. To get started, visit BigMentor.org or call 210-225-6322.

Blue Santa is the name of a community program run by seven substations of the San Antonio Police Department to provide groceries and presents to needy families every December. Call your nearest police department substation to make financial contributions or donate new toys. Visit the SanAntonio.gov/SAPD website for police substation contact information.

Boysville is a residential facility for boys and girls through age 17 who need a place to stay because of abuse, neglect or another family crisis. The children put together this year’s holiday wish list. It includes dolls, bicycles, kids’ pajamas and toy cars. See the full wish list at BoysvilleTexas.org, or call 210-659-1901.

The Center for Family Relations helps children and parents in divorce situations redefine and restructure their families. Your family can help stock the children’s playroom at the center. The center needs DVDs for kids, toys, Wii games, AA batteries, and board games, puzzles and sports equipment. Visit CenterForFamilyRelations.org, or call 210-733-3349 for more information.

The Children’s Association for Maximum Potential, or CAMP, provides recreational camping in the Texas Hill Country and other opportunities for kids and grownups with special needs. Start a family or kids-only fundraising drive to raise $25 for one day’s worth of feed for camp horses or $80 for the ingredients for S’mores at a campfire cookout. Financial contributions and volunteers are also needed. For more information, visit CampCamp.org or call 210-671-5411.

Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas provides free peer support groups for ages 3-24, as well as bereavement and anticipatory grief counseling for individuals and families. Families can buy new teddy bears and art supplies for kids. The center also needs cash contributions, gift cards and volunteers. For more information, visit CBCST.org or call 210-736-4847.

The Children’s Shelter provides a safe haven for children ages newborn to 14 who must leave their homes because of abuse, abandonment or neglect. The shelter needs cash contributions, diapers and toddler pull-ups, infant formula, children’s socks and underwear, twin sheets with pillowcases, gift cards, and hairbrushes, barrettes and bows. For more information, visit ChildrensShelter.org or call 210-212-2536.

ChildSafe acts as the Child Advocacy Center in Bexar County to serve children traumatized by abuse or neglect and their families. The organization’s wish list includes small items such as diapers, new stuffed animals, clothes in sizes 3T and up and books for older kids. For the organization’s Adventure Therapy program, they need kid-sized kayak paddles, daypacks for hiking, first aid kits and six-person tents. For more information, visit www.childsafe-sa.org, or call 210-675-9000.

Communities In Schools of San Antonio wants to stop kids from becoming school dropouts, which is why staff members and volunteers help thousands of K-12 kids and their families each year with after-school programs and school supplies. Their Backpack Buddy program packs backpacks with healthy meals to take home after school. Your family can help with cash contributions and non-cash donations, including new athletic shoes, school supplies and winter jackets in all sizes. For more information, visit CISSA.org or call 210-520-8440.

The Elf Louise Christmas Project collects gifts for thousands of needy San Antonio area families each year. The organization needs cash contributions, volunteers and new, unwrapped toys for infants and children through age 18. For toy drop-off points, visit the Elf Louise website at ElfLouise.org. For more information, call 210-224-1843.

Family Service Association is San Antonio’s oldest human service agency, serving people from 28 counties at five neighborhood centers and more than 50 schools. Play Santa this year by signing up for the association’s Adopt-A-Family program. Association volunteers will help you choose a family and provide the selected family’s list of essentials and gifts. Visit Family-Service.org or call 210-299-2400 for more information.

Haven for Hope provides shelter and services to homeless individuals and families in need. Nearly 3,000 people in San Antonio are homeless each day, and the average age of a homeless child is 6. You can help with donations of furniture, linens, diapers, towels and baby food. Visit HavenforHope.org to find their House in a Box Wish List, which describes dozens of essentials needed by homeless families. Or, call 210-220-2163.

Healy-Murphy Center serves pregnant and parenting teens and their children. The center offers high school and GED programs, day care for infants and toddlers, health checkups and other services. Help teenage moms by donating school supplies, clothing, used laptops and toiletries. Help their babies with donations of diapers, baby food, pacifiers and infant clothes. For more information, visit HealyMurphy.org or call 210-223-2944.

Hill Country Daily Bread in Boerne helps more than 8,000 low-income Texas Hill Country residents each year with food, clothing, mentoring services, Christmas food and gift programs, a children’s literacy program and other services. The nonprofit needs volunteers, financial contributions, baby diapers, personal hygiene products and clothing. For more information, visit HillCountryDailyBread.com or call 830-249-0025.

Inner City Development provides food and clothing for area families in crisis and served over 70,000 meals in 2013 alone. The organization needs financial contributions. Parents can also volunteer to help coach teams, supervise youth programs, man the emergency food pantry or help maintain the grounds. For more information, visit InnerCityDevelopment.org, or call 210-224-7239.

Mission Road Ministries serves more than 800 children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities, or IDD, each year. The nonprofit needs financial contributions and volunteers. Your family or group can go shopping on their website’s Wish List page to buy coats, socks and other items. Visit MissionRoadMinistries.org, or call 210-334-2417.

Morgan’s Wonderland, a non-profit 25-acre theme park in Northeast San Antonio, is an accessible theme park designed for special needs children and adults. Parents are needed as volunteers to staff rides and attractions. Financial help is needed to defray the costs of hosting children at park events, including annual Wonderland Christmas celebrations.
For more information, visit ProvPlace.org, or call 210-696-2410.

The Red Cross San Antonio Area Chapter serves 2.4 million people in 22 counties across South-Central Texas. Your family can help with a financial contribution. For more information, visit RedCross.org/Tx/San-Antonio or call 210-224-5151.
Ronald McDonald House provides temporary housing at two facilities in San Antonio for families of children with serious illnesses who are being treated at local hospitals. Families and groups can help by organizing aluminum can tab drives. Collect the pop-top tabs on cans, and drop the tabs off at any Ronald McDonald House. Money from recycling the aluminum tabs helps support the operation. For more information, visit RonaldMcDonaldHouse-SA.org, or call 210-614-2554.

Roy Maas’ Youth Alternatives needs financial contributions and donated items to support the housing of as many as 120 children a day who have been affected by abuse, parental desertion, family strain or emotional turmoil. Visit RMYA.org, or call 210-340-8077 for more information.

The Salvation Army serves kids, adults and seniors in Bexar County and surrounding communities. The organization needs program volunteers, disaster-response volunteers and Christmas season volunteers, as well as canned food, bus passes, sheets and towels. For more information, call 210-352-2000 or visit SalvationArmySATX.org.

San Antonio Food Bank collects and distributes more than 44 million pounds of food in 16 Texas counties every year. The food bank needs financial donations, food and volunteers. You and your family or friends can organize a food drive this winter. Find how-to instructions at SAFoodBank.org, or call 210-337-3663.

San Antonio Youth Literacy provides one-to-one reading assistance to children at San Antonio elementary schools. SAYL needs financial contributions and children’s books. Donate your time this year to become a Reading Buddy. For more information, visit SAYL.org, or call 210-299-1533.

Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children serves children who are deaf and hard of hearing. The school needs financial contributions for the school and community outreach programs, as well as classroom supplies and seeds and plants for seasonal gardens. For more information, visit SunshineCottage.org or call 210-824-0579.

Toys for Tots, a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program, collects new, unwrapped toys each year for children. The program needs new toys that can be dropped off until Dec. 23 at participating Toys R Us stores and other locations in Boerne, Cibolo, Helotes, New Braunfels and San Antonio. Visit ToysForTots.org to find the nearest drop-off site.

Visitation House offers transitional housing and support services to homeless single mothers and their children in San Antonio. You can help with a cash contribution of any size. To donate online, visit VisitationHouseMinistries.org, or call 210-735-6910.


By Renee Haines


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