For the Children! Seriously
Guitars, books and money: Gifts Austin kids need
Holidays: They’re all about the kids, right? (Well, and those ads for sparkly engagement rings and whatnot.) They’re also, obviously, about giving — and, when it comes to donations (not to put too fine a point on it), giving before the end of the calendar year.
What better way to celebrate than to combine those things, then? Underserved children and kids in need could use some extra love this time of year. They need the basics — safety, food, shelter — of course. But it’s also a good time to give a boost to programs that encourage their creativity and reward their talents.
Below are some local nonprofits that provide giving opportunities of both types. Most need goods and items of various kinds (check their sites for specifics), but often the best donation you can make, if you’re able, is cash money. Even modest amounts can go a long way toward changing a child’s life.
Food, Shelter, Protection, Advocacy
Mental health professionals at this longtime local service help kids and their families with developing emotional skills to meet life’s sometimes formidable challenges.
Offering emergency shelter, foster care placement and other residential and nonresidential services to displaced, abused and neglected youth and their families. The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation will double any donations made before December 31.
Central Texas’ biggest hunger-relief organization , CAFB has been a reliable bastion meeting citizens’ basic needs for many years. They accept donations in many forms, including certain kinds of nonperishable foods. Since there are always more mouths to feed, they can use cash donations any time of year, but The Beaumont Foundation will double yours during the holiday season.
Court-appointed special advocates represent the interest of abused, neglected and abandoned children in the court system; they also provide those children with a stable, committed resource in many other places, including schools and their communities at large.
The CCP provides the invaluable service of helping abused children through the investigation, trial and recovery process. They dedicate the full force of their resources to give each child they serve intensive and individualized aid and treatment.
Part rec center, part social organization and, most important, a place to get support and be safe, Out Youth has for 21 years been there for Ausin-area LGBTQIA (lesbian/gay/bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) youth and their allies.
Located on a 10-acre campus outside of Austin, the Settlement Home houses abused and neglected children, providing basic needs as well as therapy, foster and adoption services and help transitioning to independent living.
Fun, Work, Art, Opportunity
American YouthWorks offers education, service and green jobs training to at-risk youth and young adults ages 18-28.
Operating under Title 1, Anthropos brings professional musicians into low-income middle and high schools, primarily in East Austin, to offer free music lessons, workshops, master classes and performance opportunities to economically disadvantaged youth.
Austin Bat Cave’s free writing and tutoring programs offer kids a way to develop their writing skills in all areas. The volunteer-run organization has numerous readings and other fun, writing-oriented events throughout the year, as well as partnerships for publishing and airing kids’ work on the radio from time to time.
The school offers kids from all backgrounds something near and dear to Austin’s heart: education and access to resources for creative work in independent film, art and technology.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas
For more than a century, Big Brothers and Big Sisters have been matching "bigs" (adults) and "smalls" (kids) in well-considered, long-term, one-on-one relationships. The impact on kids' scholastic performances, family relationships, avoidance of drugs and alcohol and more is measurable and impressive, but the adults will tell you they get just as much out of the program, if not more.
The now-venerable national organization provides kids with a place to go, stuff to do (including programs and events), pals to hang with and adult supervision when they’re not at home or school, making all the difference in the lives of both the kids and their working parents.
Formerly called Theatre Action Project, Creative Action is a grassroots, award-wining program that involves and young ones in the creative arts as well as fostering critical thinking, innovation and leadership development.
Through afterschool programs, workshops and other outreach, the Girls Empowerment Network helps empower, support and guide girls through the unique pressures they face on the way to adulthood.
Girls and women are still woefully underrepresented in professional and academic fields involving science, math, engineering and technology (STEM). With its educational programs, resources and support of professional women in those fields, Girlstart is changing that.
Dedicated to empowering girls and women through music education, Girls Rock Austin was the first Austin rock & roll summer camp to offer needs-based scholarships and other access opportunities to a diverse spectrum of girls. They also have a fundraising ladies rock camp and other programs during the school year. They need money, of course — and The Saunders Foundation will match every donation up to $2,500 through December 31 — and if you add in a guitar or other instrument, you might get the fun of seeing it played at the girls’ summer showcases, always a heartwarming, rocking good time.
A program of the Rude Mechanicals theater group, Grrrl action employs all aspects of performance to enable teenage girls to articulate their visions and use their voices. They offer a wide variety of year-round programming.
A program of The Griffin School, YouthSpin has for six years broadcast a daily radio show Fridays 6-7pm on KOOP 91.7FM. Kids who participate in the program learn broadcasting and deejaying, sure, but they also get a lot out of the freeform and ongoing discussion that takes place on and around the show.