Heed the Call: Helping Hands & Willing Hearts Needed this Season

Get In the Holiday Spirit!
November 6, 2011
Plan Now to Ring In the New Year!
November 28, 2011

In a time when unemployment remains high, fires ravage homes and hurricanes flood neighborhoods, many people will be left in a cold, dark place this the holiday season. According to Feeding America, at least 23.6 percent of all children are at risk of food insecurity in the Brazos Valley alone, or 1 in 6 on a household level.

Whether you serve food to a hungry community neighbor or hand a gift to a small child, many in the community are working together to ensure every person does not go without over the holidays.

Below are a few organizations with a need for helping hands this holiday.

In a time when unemployment remains high, fires ravage homes and hurricanes flood neighborhoods, many people will be left in a cold, dark place this the holiday season. According to Feeding America, at least 23.6 percent of all children are at risk of food insecurity in the Brazos Valley alone, or 1 in 6 on a household level.

Whether you serve food to a hungry community neighbor or hand a gift to a small child, many in the community are working together to ensure every person does not go without over the holidays.

Below are a few organizations with a need for helping hands this holiday.

Still Creek Ranch

Still Creek Ranch is a small haven for children from broken homes. Still Creek houses 33 children in three separate cottages and their beds are always full. The organization is completely run by donations and every little bit helps. The house parents have 70 children at their school to feed every day; their commuting children often come from low-income backgrounds. Still Creek accepts any and all help around the holiday season.

“Most kids with families go home to a hungry table,” Director Margaret O’Quinn says when explaining their needs over Christmas. They look for smaller food baskets to send home with the children. Oftentimes the children will make the food they’ve received at home, so Still Creek asks for non-perishables such as canned-goods or instant potatoes. O’Quinn stresses the need for jackets, blankets, and comforters for the oncoming winter. Organizations or individuals can sponsor a child for $25, $50 or $100 dollars.

Anyone who would like to sponsor a child can make donations at www.stillcreekranch.org through a Pay Pal account. Checks may be mailed payable to Still Creek Ranch. All donations also may be dropped off on-site or picked up by Still Creek’s staff.

 

Blue Christmas

Christmas for some children this year may be delivered by a man in a blue suit, who happens to be a member of the Bryan Police Officers Association. Officers encounter low-income families and see poverty first-hand while on duty. Blue Christmas provides gifts for children and families nominated by the Bryan Police Officers. They ask for new or gently used toys to provide for children of all ages.

“A week or two before Christmas we try to bring them gifts to make it more special,” Officer John Agnew says when asked about the delivery process. Bins will be located in the lobby of the Bryan Police Department for everyone who wants to contribute. They will have booths set up for donations during the First Friday celebration in downtown Bryan as well as Holiday in the Park.

The tentative date for Blue Christmas delivery is December 10, and gifts will be accepted until December 3. Anyone who would like to donate money for gifts can drop off cash or checks to the Bryan Police Department. Checks are made payable to the Bryan Police Officers Association.

 

Scotty’s House

Scotty’s House provides a child with a voice during a time of need. Any child who comes forward claiming physical or sexual abuse is referred to Scotty’s House through Child Protective Services and given support and medical care. The organization provides medical tests, free counseling, and works with law enforcement to meet the needs of the family.

Scotty’s House is always looking for volunteers and those who want to donate gifts over the holiday season. Serving children in a seven-county region so there is a large need for donations, but any surplus is shared with CPS to ensure all contributions are used.

Scotty’s House is located at 2424 Kent Street in Bryan. Any donations or gifts may be dropped off 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Gifts must be unwrapped and dropped off at least a few days before Christmas.

 

The Salvation Army

As you walk around the mall or stop by the bank around the holidays, you may see a medium-sized Christmas tree in the corner. The tree holds something far more valuable than ornaments – a child’s name with a list of wants and needs. The program provides gifts for children, from newborns to 14-year-olds. According to Lt. Monica Contreras of the Salvation Army, last year the Angel Trees served 2,200 children and those numbers may rise this year.

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program is only one of the opportunities for someone to get involved in. The Kettle program is Salvation Army’s largest fundraiser and involves ringing the bell outside of various locations. The Salvation Army is always looking for volunteers to donate their time.

Applications for volunteers are taken 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2506 Cavitt Ave. The Angel Trees will be placed around the community on November 18 with the main tree inside Post Oak Mall. The last day to donate gifts is December 15.

 

Brazos Valley Food Bank

 “A well balanced lunch can be a feast for someone else,” Executive Director Theresa Mangapora explains when describing the needs of families who go hungry. Last year the Brazos Valley Food Bank provided services for more than 44,000 individuals, 43 percent of them being children. The Food Bank is always looking for volunteers to participate in food drives, donating, or putting food boxes together.

“It’s an easy exercise and a way for groups to get out and do something meaningful,” Mangapora says. The Food Bank tries to match a volunteer’s interests with the organizations needs so it can be an enjoyable experience. Their largest holiday event is the Food for Families Food Drive with KBTX on December 7. The Food Drive has volunteers to run the event; it’s up to people in the community to bring food donations to make the event a success.

Food donations can be dropped off at the Food Bank warehouse, 1514 Shiloh Ave. in Bryan, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Collection barrels are also available at most grocery stores in town. Visit www.bvfb.org for more information on the types of foods most needed.

 

Independence Harley-Davidson Toy Drive

 Santa might be seen this year wearing a leather jacket and riding a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle instead of a sled. Independence Harley-Davidson Toy Drive hand-delivers toys to children in need. The group will rev up their engines with a trailer in tow on December 3. This will be the 23rd year for the drive and donations will be accepted beginning in November. In the past, the trailers have been filled with clothes, toys, beds, and anything else to provide for eight families in need. “We focus on the kids, but if there are things the family needs to survive we [will] do that,” says Marketing Director Heather Beran.

Cash or check donations may be brought to Independence Harley-Davidson at 4101 Texas Hwy 6 in College Station. Checks should be made payable to Brazos De Dios Foundation. Donations will be accepted until December 3; donations received after the deadline will be used next year. –Margaret Ann Thurmond