Even as unemployment rages and businesses shutter against the backdrop of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, charitable donations by individuals, non-profits, and businesses appear to be surging across the state of Texas and the nation.
The wave of donations is being largely directed to individuals and families who are most vulnerable, including African Americans and Hispanics who have faced economic privation at a rate that is as much as three times greater than White households.
From Brownsville, San Antonio, and Houston to Waco, Dallas and El Paso, Texans are digging deep to lend much-needed support to homeless shelters, food pantries, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, migrant centers, hospitals, and places in between.
“From the very beginning, we said this year served a greater purpose than ever before,” said Dave Scullin, president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas, in a statement. “We are so grateful and in awe of our generous donors, community members, sponsors, and volunteers who once again rose to the occasion for our friends and neighbors and highlighted how philanthropic this region is.”
The breadth of giving is striking.
The Dallas-based Communities Foundation of Texas led the recent North Texas Giving Day, which generated nearly $60 million on behalf of more than 3,200 nonprofits, with more than 22,800 volunteers pledging to donate 685,000 hours of service. To cater to this year’s event, the 12thannual, the CFT provided socially distanced car rallies, live-streamed concert, and virtual performances from regional arts groups. Among its other great efforts, CFT last May hosted an event in conjunction with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys football team that pulled in almost $21 million.
In Beaumont, the Southeast Texas Food Bank received a $9 million donation – the largest single gift that’s ever been made to the organization – from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott, whose giving was fueled by her significant stock holdings in Amazon. Along with other tech companies benefitting from everyone being online all day now, Amazon has helped lead the charge with the #UnitedWeTech giving efforts. She also gave $9 million to the Meals on Wheels Central Texas and YWCA in Austin.
In Harlingen, the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) has hit a new record for organ donation in the Rio Grande Valley, as people realize that they can make the ultimate gift to someone in need.
Military personnel, some 80 strong, have deployed to support hospitals in Abilene, Eagle Pass, and Lufkin to deal with the overload of corona cases.
In Brownsville, a group of Catholic sisters and volunteers from the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate Center are helping feed refugees along the border – a tough task in any event, but with steeper challenges now as the coronavirus keeps volunteers stateside and the risk of potential contamination keeps people apart.
In a move that underscores the depth of need in communities like Brownsville, a much-needed gift of financial support has been directed to the Good Neighbor Settlement House, a social-service organization that provides meals, clothing, showers and other support services to individuals in desperate straits, many of them Hispanics.
At a time when the city has an estimated 800 homeless people, executives of Trico Products, a national manufacturer of windshield wipers based in Brownsville, recently contributed $25,000 to the Good Neighbor Settlement House. The donation is part of a broader charitable effort by Trico’s parent company — First Brands Group, a Cleveland-based auto parts company – to ensure a strong pipeline of funding for community-based charities in cities and towns were the Cleveland company has a presence.
In providing support to Good Neighbor Settlement House, Trico executives turned to a trusted community organization that has played a particularly important role in providing aid to individuals who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The organization was established in 1953 by the First United Methodist Women in Brownsville.
In Corpus Christi, Catholic Charities is helping those left out of work by the economic impact of the virus with their re-employment efforts, while Catholic charities in Galveston have teamed up with Harris County to provide $40 million in COVID-19 relief programs. Part of $40 million aid includes money for struggling families struggling to cover the cost of rent, medical care, utilities and even childcare.
In San Antonio, philanthropists are calling for an office of health equity to collect and analyze data from across our great state for the health betterment of all, as many in the Black and Latinos communities have been the hardest hit by the virus.
The One Star Foundation, one of Texas’s leading non-profit organizations, has compiled an exhaustive list of ways for people to give, whether it’s delivering meals, donating blood, or volunteering with the Texas Medical Reserve Corps. No amount of help is too small for those in need.
These examples reflect a trend across the country: more than half of US households are engaged in charitable giving, according to a new report from Indiana University’s Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI). Although about 40 percent of households say they’re making less money, the number of people givinghas actually increased. One notable example: Giving Basket donations to Feeding America increased almost 2,000 percent in 2020.
“African American households face hunger at a rate more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic households. And getting enough to eat is a consistent struggle for 1 in 4 African American children,” says a statement on the FeedingAmerica.org website. “Eight of the 10 counties with the highest food insecurity rates in the nation are at least 60% African American. Seven of the 10 counties are in Mississippi.”
It concludes, “Together, we are working to ensure that every family has the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and achieve a hunger-free future.”