The teacher who asked her husband instead of giving her something for Christmas to give a musical keyboard to a teen, whose family has been homeless on and off in the last five years.
The couple who celebrated a love of soccer by buying new cleats for a kid born in Congo, who grew up in a refugee camp making his own soccer balls out of scraps.
“Honestly it was my favorite Christmas gift to shop for, and I am so happy we could help!” the anonymous donor wrote.
These are some of the small stories of giving during the 22nd Statesman Season for Caring program.
The big story is what the community has been able to do together in a year of unprecedented need.
Season for Caring has raised $1,299,157 in monetary donations and $114,502 in in-kind donations of goods and services. The total raised, $1,413,659 million, is the most raised in any single year. It’s the fourth year the program has raised more than $1 million.
Factory Mattress made sure every family member who needed one had a new bed, and Austin’s Couch Potatoes donated new furniture to four families and helped the other featured families get furniture at-cost.
This week, Pat Munday made a $100,000 gift, doubling what she gave last year. Munday is the widow of Bill Munday, who owned car dealerships in Austin and Houston before his death in 2018. This year, she’s been donating money to organizations like Season for Caring, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and Hungry Souls, which are helping to keep families fed during the pandemic.
Since the program began in 1999, Season for Caring has given $15.1 million to local nonprofit organizations.
The agencies use the monetary donations to help the featured families first but then are able to help hundreds of other clients throughout the year with basic needs such as food, clothing, rent, medications and transportation.
“The need is constant,” said Simone Talma Flowers, executive director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas, which works with refugees.
The 12 local nonprofit organizations chosen for the 2020 Season for Caring program are all gearing up for a 2021 expecting clients to need more help with rent, food, transportation and medical care.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen to the economy,” said Jo Kathryn Quinn, president and chief executive officer of Caritas of Austin, which focuses on homelessness. “We could have a dangerous combination of less resources because of a struggling economy and more need because people are losing their housing.”
Donations for the 2020 Season for Caring program can continue to be made through Jan. 31.
For the featured families, there still are some bigger items on their wish lists:
Nelly Aguilar: This mom’s biggest need is a washer and dryer, an immigration lawyer for her husband’s case, a refrigerator, a mobile home on a lot, and Wi-Fi services. (The SAFE Alliance, 512-665-1858, safeaustin.org)
LaChantia Anderson:This single mom is teaching herself coding while escaping homelessness. She needs a new laptop, as well as a washer and dryer, towels, and gift cards for clothing. (Salvation Army Austin, 512-933-0600, salvationarmyaustin.org)
Albert Byishimo: This father from Congo is teaching his children to help others. He needs a job as well as career training, help paying off their travel loan, and gift cards for clothes. (Interfaith Action of Central Texas, 512-386-9145, interfaithtexas.org)
Aaron Kemkaran: Work for this musician and studio owner evaporated in the pandemic. He needs studio equipment to relaunch the studio and remodeling work on his house, including to the roof, bathroom and kitchen. (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, 512-541-4226, myhaam.org)
Renee Milam:Medical needs are mounting for this mom with four kids with medical worries. They need laptops and an iPad for school, car repairs and help with rent. (Any Baby Can, 512-454-3743, anybabycan.org)
Cline and Velma Meredith: These grandparents are struggling after cancer and job loss. They need help with medical bills and their mortgage as well as bathroom tile repairs. (Wonders & Worries, 512-329-5757, wondersandworries.org)
Jessica Molina: This teacher and mom of four lost her husband to cancer. She needs rent and medical bills assistance as well as help paying off her husband’s funeral. (Hospice Austin, 512-342-4726, hospiceaustin.org)
Deogratias Niyongabo: This father went from an advocate in Africa to University of Texas janitor. His biggest needs are a gently used car, rent assistance and supplies for a new baby. (Foundation Communities, 512-447-2026, foundcom.org)
Monica and James Roussett: This couple struggles to get ahead after being teen parents. Their biggest needs are car repairs and help with rent and utilities. (Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, 512-736-2600, bgcaustin.org)
Philip Sharp: Senior with cancer has had to choose between medicine and food. His big needs are a vacuum cleaner, a winter coat and help paying medical bills. (Family Eldercare, 512-450-0844, familyeldercare.org)
Nelson Toala: Grandfather had a stroke while on furlough from the Driskill Hotel. They need plumbing repairs to the kitchen, a walk-in shower and bathroom remodel. (Meals on Wheels Central Texas, 512-476-6325, mealsonwheelscentraltexas.org)
Statesman Season for Caring
Read more stories and make a donation at statesman.com/seasonforcaring, or use the donation coupon on Page B2.