A trio of local organizations are working to make the holidays a little brighter for those who are less forunate.
Good Samaritan Ministries, Toys for Kids and the Salvation Army stole the show at the Brownwood Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday afternoon at the Brownwood Country Club.
The trio of organizations is working at the local level this holiday season to help those in need. Each group gave a presentation to inform chamber members how they can help this holiday season.
Angelia Bostick, executive director of Good Samaritan Ministries, spoke of Giving Tuesday, which will be held this Tuesday. The goal is to raise $10,000 in a 24-hour period.
According to Bostick, if that goal is met, the fund raised will pay for one month of groceries or six days of operating expenses.
“We want you to join us,” Bostick said. “It is going to be fun and exciting. There are ways you can be a part by being a social media ambassador. Just blow up your social format to share about Giving Tuesday, or challenging your co-workers or businesses to match you or beat you.”
The organization will be open until 7 p.m. on Tuesday in order to accept donations. Donations can be made online at goodsambwd.org, or at the offices located 305 Clark St. Persons can donate food or clothes that day, according to Bostick.
According to Bostick, the campaign is being dubbed “Love Big, Give Big.”
“Because that is what Brown County does,” Bostick said of how the motto reflects the community. “They always step up and meet the needs that exist in our community. I am extremely blessed, as are all of us who live here, to live in such a caring community.”
Currently, Good Samaritan Ministries serves 5,000 individuals, and 1,000 are food consumers and 1,600 are consumer of the resale shop each month, according to Bostick.
Wanda Martin, co-founder of Toys for Kids, told the story of how the organization began from humble beginnings to having a warehouse full of toys.
She started Toys for Kids with her late husband, Dennis Thacker, in 1997. In 2000, Thacker was diagnosed with lung cancer and Good Samaritan took it over before the couple regained control in 2002.
“We started with absolutely zero – not one dollar, not one toy, no building. We had our telephone and our house,” Martin said.
She and her husband then purchased a truck and parked it by their home and the stores collected toys that were donated.
The couple used to shop all night at Walmart in the beginning once they figured out what they needed, according to Martin. “Clients came in the next day and the kids came in and got their toys,” Martin said.
Currently, the organization serves 500 families a year, which is anywhere between 1,400 and 1,600 children. “You don’t have to be on government programs to use the program, you just have to need help.”
Martin said those who would qualify are families where the main income is culled from a minimum wage job or maybe had their car broke down and “are just having a hard time getting through Christmas.”
“We are there to help them take care of their children, and make sure they have something under the tree for their kids,” Martin said.
In the beginning, each child received one new and one used toy. But that has since changed.
“Now, we stock toys into a warehouse with walls and shelves,” Martin said. “We try to stock toys year around.
“Our money doesn’t come in until after Thanksgiving,” Martin said. “I have maybe received $3,500, and we have a warehouse full of toys because since 2006 we saved a little money to put back and start shopping early.”
Rick Phelps of the Salvation Army got the crowd into the holiday spirit by having them ring tiny Salvation Army bells that were placed on the tables.
“We are going to start the Kettle Drive, beginning the day after Thanksgiving all the way up until Christmas Eve. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Phelps said.
Of the funds raised throughout the drive, according to Phelps, 88 percent stays local to take care of those in need. The other 12 percent goes toward administrative and advertising costs.
“If you take into account the amount of money that is of the kettles collected in any given area in a year and we are keeping 88 percent – that is doing a lot of good in the community,” Phelps said.
Phelps then challenged businesses to challenge each other.
“I am asking you to challenge your employees to sign up and work a kettle,” Phelps said. “Not only collecting money for the Salvation Army, but you are putting a smile on the face of some people walking into businesses.”
Phelps said the organization is currently entrenched in its coat and blanket drive. Those wanting to donate coats, blankets, and even scarves, can do so at J.C. Penneys Salon and Chick-fil-A at Heartland Mall, Midtown Baptist Church and Prosperity Bank.
Brent Addleman is managing editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. He can be reached by calling 325-641-3110, or email email@example.com. Twitter: @BWD_Editor.