Two ways to fill hungry bellies, save lives this season

I usually reserve Mondays for posts about organizations and events helping the people and pets of Austin. But this time I’m making an exception because the causes are too good and the need is too great to wait even a few more days.

stuff the bus logo 2014

Stuff the Bus 

Capital Metro and Whole Foods are working to bring 30,000 much needed meals to hungry families in the Austin area, and they need your help to cram those buses full of tasty, healthy food.

Here’s the deal, in their own words because I couldn’t say it better if I tried:

This holiday season, Capital Metro, Whole Foods Market and the Capital Area Food Bank work in unison to help feed hungry Central Texans by hosting the 3rd Annual “Stuff the Bus” food drive Dec. 12-14!  Help us fill 2 entire Capital Metro buses with food to provide 30,000 meals for families in need. Donate non-perishable food items at any Central Texas Whole Foods Market store Dec. 12-14!

Three ways to participate: 

  • Bring your donations from home: Drop-off at any in-store collection bin OR take donations straight to the two buses parked at the Downtown and Domain stores!
  • Visit Whole Foods Market Dec. 12-14 and fill a brown bag with non-perishable items OR purchase pre-packed brown bags at the Downtown store.
  • Add a donation dollar amount to your final in-store purchase total at the register.

Bus Collection Sites: Open Dec. 12-14 | 10 am – 6 pm 

  • Whole Foods Market Downtown: 525 N Lamar Blvd.
  • Whole Foods Market Domain: 11920 Domain Drive

All proceed benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. 

Of course, all food needs to be in its orginal, sealed packaging. And only non-perishable foods can be accepted. It’s so simple to add a few cans and boxes of food to your next shopping trip or two, or buy one of the prepackaged food bags at Whole Foods and they’ll take care of getting it on tables that might otherwise be empty.
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And lest pet-friendly Austin neglects its beloved furry citizens, there is another awesome campaign running to keep dog and cat bowls filled.

Pound for Pound Food Drive

The Pound for Pound Food Drive

Tomlinson pet food has launched their annual double-the-donations food drive to benefit homeless pets and rescue groups throughout Austin. Here’s how it works, in their own words:

“Our annual food drive for local animal rescues is on. From Black Friday to Christmas Eve, all food donations made will be DOUBLED–pound for pound.
Here’s how you can help:

  1. Drop by any Tomlinson’s location.  (There are nine locations around Austin.)
  2. Upon checkout, donate a small, medium, or large bag of pet food.
  3. Check a box for the rescue to which you would like your donation to go.

After Dec. 24, we will collect your donations–doubled by our generous vendors–and distribute them to your choice of the following rescues:

Austin Boxer Rescue
Austin Dog Rescue
Austin Siamese Rescue
Animal Trustees 4Paws
Bastrop Animal Shelter
Blue Dog Rescue
Canyon Lake Animal Shelter
Central Texas SPCA
Diamond Dachshund Rescue
Greyhound Rescue Central TX
Love-A-Bull
Pawsitive Karma
Pug Rescue of Austin
San Antonio Dusty Paws
TX Great Pyrenees
TX Humane Heroes
Texas Sweeties
Thundering Paws
Wags, Hope, & Healing
Wee Rescue

Their goal? To provide 100,000 of pet food. That’s enough to feed 400 homeless dogs for all of 2015!

So now you see why I couldn’t wait until Monday to share this information!  We all need to help get the word out, too. Won’t you please share this post or the information in it with everyone you know in Austin? Hungry people and pets are counting on you to keep their tummies full.

Pass it on, please!

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Austin Diaper Bank helps young and old (Make a Difference Monday)

Austin Diaper Bank logoCan you imagine not being able to buy diapers for your baby? Or being a senior citizen in need of adult diapers, but with a limited income?

Diapers and other personal care needs aren’t covered by programs like Food Stamps. They’re not available at most food banks.

But if you have a baby or toddler, they’re not optional either. Lack of enough diapers to keep a baby clean can lead to a whole host of physical and behavioral problems. And now researchers are finding a link between being unable to afford diapers and a mom’s increased risk for depression. Which of course, then affects her ability to care for an uncomfortable, fussy baby — or a baby who may even be in pain with severe diaper rash and other infections. It’s becomes a downward spiral in which no one wins.

And for older people in need of incontinence protection, having adult diapers can mean the difference between going out in public at all…or becoming a recluse.

Cloth diapers might sound like an option for people with children, but the laundry costs can quickly become financially prohibitive for that, too. Especially if, like so many people in apartments, you don’t have a washer and dryer at home. (Trust me…I did the cloth diaper route! It was hard to keep up even WITH a washer and dryer!) Add to that the fact that most day care programs won’t accept a child in cloth diapers, and you have a secondary economic issue.

Thank goodness there are people stepping in to help to fill this need here in Austin. I met the ladies behind the Austin Diaper Bank at a Texas M.I.L.K. event a few months ago. I learned that the group was the idea of founder Beverly Hamilton. She read about a similar program in other cities across the country, and was touched by the impact of the programs on the lives of children and families. But when she learned that Austin had no such program, she stepped into the void. The Austin Diaper Bank was born in June of 2013.

“There are many reasons people need help with diaper costs,” the volunteers told me. “It could be a family living in poverty, a job loss, a divorce or an illness. And with seniors, it’s an on-going problem as income doesn’t keep up with higher prices.”

The program is currently run out of the director’s home, but is looking for help with renting a space so they can accept more donations, sort and repackage them, and get them out to the growing numbers of families in need.  The group has already taken in and distributed over 50,000 diapers to date. But the need keeps expanding.

So how can you help? So glad you asked! Austin Diaper Bank is always in need of diapers, volunteers to sort, package and deliver diapers and to get the word out. Check out their How YOU Can Assist ADB in 2014 page for the details. That package or two of baby, toddler or adult diapers you donate could make a big difference to a family in crisis.

Making the Homeless Smile (Make a Difference Monday)

Today’s Make a Difference Monday isn’t local. And at the same time, it’s completely local. Let me explain….

The video below didn’t come from an Austin area group. But because this fair city is also home to so very many homeless people, the message…and the action…is perfect for here-at-home action. I’ve worked with the homeless for years, and know the value of a smile, a recognition that these people (whom my daughter once dubbed “Angels on the Street”) are no less human, no less deserving of a kind word, a smile, a ray of hope.

Watch the video. Check out the group behind it. Let it inspire you. At the bottom of this post are some links to help you get started on sharing smiles of your own.

Making blessing bags for the homeless (what to include and what NOT to include)

Homeless resources in Austin:

(My goal in the next few weeks is to create a single page, printable directory of local resources for the homeless residents of Austin. That way, we can all include those with the coins, food, or smiles we hand out. My husband deserves 100% of the credit for that idea…it is a great way to connect people with the services they might not know exist. Watch for that printable added here SOON!)

Eat chili, hang out at Jo’s, help people: what’s not to love?

jo's Coffee House Chili Cook Off PosterJo’s is one of the coolest spots on South Congress. Yummy meat, dessert and vegetarian menu choices, all kinds of coffees and teas, and a chance to people watch from a shady spot. It’s also close to the Pets Alive trailer, so I can get some puppy visits in (but that’s a story for another post!)

And now there’s another reason to love Jo’s.  I just found out that Sunday January 26 it’s going to be the site for the 8th Annual Chili Cook-Off, sponsored by Shiner. The cook-off benefits  the Sustainable Food Center, a wonderful local Austin charity working hard to make it possible for more people to have access to nutritious, affordable food through education, access to gardens and more.

So all in all, that means South Congress, Jo’s Coffee Shop, chili, music (live music will be provided by Jeff Hughes & Chapparal, the Jo’s House Band and DJ Ben Nuhn), beer for those who love it (and I know a LOT of Austin folks do!) and a chance to do something really good for people who are struggling to put healthy food on their family dinner table.

The festivities (including chili tasting!) start at noon and run until 3. And there are even prizes!  Yes, some of those chili chefs will walk away with great prizes, so not only do you get to eat, you get to vote and help your fave cooks win some good stuff!

It’s $20 to join in the event, and that includes samples of all 14 chili entries, plus all the great music and atmosphere you want to enjoy. Beer and other drinks will be for sale, so you can safely go ahead and take a bite or two of that habanero-spiked chili, then put out the fire.

Jo’s is located at 1300 South Congress in Austin.

Gobble, Gobble, Give on Make a Difference Monday

gobble gobble give austinWelcome to the first day of our new “Make a Difference Monday” feature and our first guest post!

Today we’re featuring Gobble, Gobble, Give. 

Gobble, Gobble, Give began fourteen years ago in Los Angeles when one man, Barry Walker, saw a need and chose to do something. Although he had little to give, he chose to share what he had with those that had even less. The first year, he fed 28 people.

Each year, with the help of friends, the efforts were multiplied. Since then, the organization has spread to San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York City, Santa Monica, and here in Austin. Last year they fed 5,500 people. Check out this video of Gobble Gobble Give to see a piece of the impact.

This year, on Thanksgiving morning, at 10:00 am, people from around Austin will bring a Thanksgiving dish and gather at Go Greene Auto at 2617 South First.

Some will assemble the meals from all that has been brought, and others will be in charge of distribution. They will venture out into the community and share a hot meal with those that are less fortunate. Armed with toiletries, blankets, and a smile we will try to make someone’s morning a bit brighter. It is that simple.

For many of us, Thanksgiving morning can be a bit hectic or you might have out of town plans. The good news is that you can still help.

Financial donations are accepted through the Gobble Gobble Give main website and will help us pay for things like paper plates, buy turkeys and provide other necessities for our fellow Austin residents in need. Every dollar helps, so please give whatever you can.

Or if you’d like to donate blankets, toiletries, to-go containers, or food ahead of time, please contact us on the Facebook page, Gobble Gobble Give Austin or email Alissa Leenher.

Gobble, Gobble Give is a Gobble Gobble Give is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity. Donations are 100% tax-deductible. 

Thank you Alissa!