APRE Holiday Giving – 10 Local Charities Austin Portfolio Supports

The holidays are a season for reflecting on everything we have to be grateful for and the perfect time to give back to those in need. As you consider which charities to support this year, our Austin Portfolio Real Estate agents wanted to share with you a few of the local charities that they actively support.

Breakthrough Central Texas
Supported by Susan Avant

Their mission is to create first generation college graduates. Starting in 6th grade, Breakthrough works with students who want to go to college and stay with them until college graduation. Since these students are the first to go in their family, they have limited information about what they need to do (classes to take, grade point accountability, communication/presentation skills, internships, etc.) before it’s time to apply. Add to that the college application process, while difficult for many is especially challenging when there is no one to help guide them through the process. Breakthrough not only pairs students with mentors but has mandatory projects and requirements for the student; while not easy to fulfill, the students are motivated and just thankful for the opportunity so they don’t complain. The organization stays involved throughout college, keeping the students accountable and sometimes even being their lifeline when things get tough.

Caring for Cambodia
Supported by Jeannette Spinelli

Caring for Cambodia (CFC) currently works with over 6,600 children from preschool through high school, equipping them with the tools they need to lift their families out of poverty. Since it began in 2003, CFC has seen promising results. Healthy engaged students come to school, stay in school, and achieve positive outcomes. In June 2014, the Cambodian Minister of Education declared CFC schools to be the national model for K-12 education.

Having been a contributor to this organization for many years and seeing the positive effects that it is having on this generation of Cambodians, we at the Spinelli Residential were very proud to sponsor the construction an amazing library at a school in Siem Reap where the children can go to learn and prosper!

Central Texas Food Bank
Supported by Julie Gualandri

In October, I participated in the KW Citywide Food Drive where I distributed grocery bags (to be filled) to 1,800 homes in Southwest Austin. I also collected $815 pounds of food, which was turned in between October 18-24.

Dancing with the Stars Austin
Supported by Francie Little

In its 12th year, Dancing with the Stars Austin is the single largest fundraiser for the Center for Child Protection, raising over $1.6 million in 2017. This year’s event takes place on December 1st at the JW Marriott.

I’ve been chair for 2 years now because I believe every child should feel safe and protected in their own home. In too many homes that isn’t the case and we have to do what we can to stop the cycle and help those children heal. Agencies like the Center for Child Protection and Helping Hand Home provide invaluable services to children who have been abused. Government resources aren’t enough to cover the costs of quality care for these children so it’s up to the private sector to supplement those costs. I am involved in fundraising efforts in a big way by chairing special events such as Dancing With the Stars Austin. I contribute my time and my money to my community in this way.

Side note: Francie actually danced in the event a few years ago.

Food In Tummies (FIT)
Supported by Susan Avant

A collaboration between the Junior League of Austin and Del Valle ISD, this project provides K-5 students who qualify for the National Lunch Program nutrition over the weekend. They supply backpacks each weekend, that must be returned each Monday to be refilled for the next time, filled with nutritional food, recipes and healthy tips. This program was designed to include and teach the families the many benefits of healthy nutrition and the correlation between a healthy diet and a better school performance. There are also various workshops, races and pep rallies for the students and/or their families that promote healthy living, cooking and eating throughout the school year.

Just Imagine It
Supported by David Haynes

I support Just Imagine It because we turn children’s hospital rooms into magical living spaces for them to live in while they heal and prosper. The kids and, ultimately, their families need a refuge in the midst of long-term hospital stays that can stretch on for months and even years.  The simple act of decorating their room in their favorite colors, characters and the images they miss from home can do so much to make them feel safe and recognized in a world filled with medical devices and equipment. I sponsor Just Imagine It and you can too!

Keystone APG
Supported by Kathleen Bucher

Keystone is one charity I actively support. It is an Alternative Peer Group for teenagers that is dedicated to providing long-lasting support and success to adolescents and their families looking for relief from the effects of drugs and alcohol abuse. They work one-on-one with clients in a coaching platform to go over behaviors, triggers and negative coping skills to create peace within the client.

Operation Christmas Child
Supported by Julie Gualandri 

In order to spread some holiday cheer and meet some critical needs of children outside of Austin, I organized a donation drive and packing party for Operation Christmas Child, a program through the international organization Samaritan’s Purse. I came to support this program because I was looking for something where families could participate together, and children in Austin could learn a little bit about philanthropy, and do something for other children.

For two weeks, we had an online donation drive, where people could purchase from a curated list of items for shoebox-sized gift boxes. We chose to make boxes for 2-4 year old boys and girls, and the boxes contained necessities like a reusable water bottle, soap, toothbrushes, underwear, socks, a hat and gloves, and a few toys such as balls with pumps, stuffed animals, and craft supplies. We were able to get enough donations to fill 106 boxes, which were delivered to Bethany Lutheran Church (the local drop off point for OCC in Austin) on November 13! It was truly incredible, and I want to thank my assistant Olivia Schmitt, and our co-sponsor, the Hay Legal Group (a fee office for Independence Title) for all their support and work as well. 

Operation Turkey
Supported by Jeannette Spinelli

This Austin-based charity has a goal to serve 75,000 meals in 2019. Over the last 18 years, Operation Turkey has remained a 100% volunteer organization without a single paid employee. We are more than 20,000 volunteers strong working together to ensure everyone receives a warm meal on Thanksgiving Day.

I am passionate about this organization because their process enables anyone young or old, wealthy or not to contribute. With just $25 feeding 50 people a complete Thanksgiving meal, everyone can participate in helping our homeless neighbors. Unlike some other charities, the good work can be seen first-hand as there are multiple volunteer sites Thanksgiving morning where one can help prepare the meals, serve on-site or deliver to the the homeless population who can’t get themselves to traditional shelters.

Children can participate in decorating the food containers and even assist in delivering the meals. The Austin Community Foundation manages all donations for Operation Turkey. 100% of your donation are used to buy food. We are able to feed 40 people with just a $100 donation. Donations are tax deductible

SAFE Austin
Supported by Julie Gualandri

During September, I hosted the second annual Pampered Chef party at my home with Ana Luck to support SAFE Austin. Some of the ladies who attended brought gently-used kitchen items as donations. While everyone shopped, I highlighted a few items that could be purchased and added to my Pampered Chef kitchen item donation that would help the families who had come to SAFE to escape abuse set up the kitchens in their new housing. I chose SAFE because Ana is a long-time client of mine and this charity is very close to her heart. Doing this party for SAFE helped her as well as SAFE Austin. A win-win!

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