Remember these when making your list

Annunciation Maternity Home

AMH Mom Elizabeth gets a graduation kiss from her daughter (Facebook)

Annunciation Maternity Home is a community serving young mothers facing crisis pregnancies and caring for very young children. Nurturing staff and volunteers emphasize to mothers that they are blessed and unconditionally loved by God, who has a plan for their lives. 

In addition to safe and appropriate housing, women are provided support for basic needs, as well as resources for career planning, high school diploma curricula, and workforce readiness. Mothers also receive counseling and case management for their families, and assessment and development programs to ensure infant development stays on track. 

Services are provided at no cost to clients, but 2020 created a significant gap in fundraising and donations. Director of Donor Interests Elizabeth Wrona explains AMH has always been committed to long-term sustainability, and is a wonderful steward of donated funds, much of which comes from individual donors. “We have always been fiscally conservative and maintain an operating reserve, but our support dropped below 50 percent in March and April but has stabilized at 80 percent at press time. We are always working toward grants and sponsor matches, and are hoping for a resurgence in individual gifts during the holiday season.” 

Annunciation also partners with several churches that put up “giving” trees. This year, they are delighted to receive gift cards from HEB, Walmart, and Amazon for food and sundries. Elizabeth suggests looking for their Amazon wish list; “We can direct purchase everything we need and have it shipped. But we hope people will follow us on social media to see how their donations are being put to good use, and how our mothers and babies are thriving with their help.” 

You can mail or donate an online gift card to donate@thematernityhome.org or visit TheMaternityHome.org. She adds, “We are also thrilled to receive donated vehicles to help young moms transition and complete their journeys to independence. We will pick up or tow... whatever it takes.” Annunciation Maternity Home is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

WCCAC Holiday Market 

The Holiday Market at the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center provides parents and caregivers an opportunity an enjoyable shopping experience; being able to select gifts for their children worry-free and without cost. Child abuse takes an enormous amount of control away from family members, and the Holiday Market works to give some of that back by providing choices. Just as valuable is the opportunity for children, who also get to “shop” for their parents or grownups as part of the healing process. 

The Center is accepting gifts or money donations through the end of December. Client families will begin shopping on December 6th, and can visit the Market all the way to Christmas Eve. 

CEO Kerrie Stannell says, “We ask for dollars and donations to help us reach 250 families with at least 500 gifts. Dollars help fill gaps and buy giftwrap and donations for every age group, including parent gifts for kids to ‘buy.’ We also encourage gift cards for experiences: restaurants, movie theatres, etc., for families to build memories together.” Donors may give at WilcoCAC.org/Holiday-Market to add to Amazon and Target wish lists. During market days, board members, advocates, and community leaders volunteer to help wrap and stock the store at the JP3 building in Georgetown.  

After the holidays, WCCAC will begin gearing up for Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month in April. Kerrie says, “We will have awareness and fundraising events that month, as well as fun family activities to build and strengthen family connections. We hope to launch our inaugural ‘Save Jane’ event, canceled in 2020. Save Jane helps shine a light on the number of reported cases of abuse in Williamson County. In April of 2020 we would have read the 4,746 names as Jane or John Doe, no longer nameless kids but, instead, becoming the kid in your child’s class or the boy on your child’s soccer team.

“Given the impact of COVID, foremost, on the safety of our children, then financially for our families and ourselves, providing us a financial gift allows us the flexibility to meet the needs of the children and families we serve.”

 Beyond a financial gift, they have a continuing need for individually wrapped snacks, sodas/waters/coffee pods, and disinfectant. They also encourage community members to step up and help learn how to Recognize and Report abuse by attending free trainings: WilcoCAC.org/community-education.

Santa Teams Up with CASA of Wilco

Santa Mike gets to know Līlī her mom Marissa Austin, CEO of CASA of Williamson County. (Photo courtesy Mike Mayeux)

This year, Mike Mayeux is slipping on his red suit to help CASA of Williamson County.

Mike, also known as Santa Mike, has been holding his annual Santa meet and greets this holiday season and donating the proceeds to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which empowers community volunteers to advocate for children who have experienced abuse or neglect to find loving, safe, and permanent homes. He hopes to increase the number of Advocates so they can help the more than 500 children currently in foster care in Williamson County.

“Helping our foster children might be one of the most incredible investments a person can make in our local community and beyond,” Mike says. “So many people think the only opportunity to help foster youth is to actually open their homes as a foster parent. The reality today is that it takes a tremendous team of people collaborating to help these children. The partnerships between our dedicated judges, CPS professionals, foster parents and agencies, CASA, and others is working for so many children. Sadly we are not serving every child that needs our help, although we believe that in time we can reach and help more. My hope is that we can help them all.”

Santa Mike is available through Christmas Eve for group and private events (in-person or via Zoom from the North Pole), schedulepermitting. To book an event, email mikemayeux@gmail.com and include event details and contact information.

Fundraising for Change

One hundred days—the time period Amy Davis, executor director of The Key2Free, hopes to effect change.

The Key2Free provides safe transition housing, education, and therapeutic care for human trafficking survivors. On September 22, they launched the third annual 100 Days of Giving Freedom Campaign to help clients and their families. “We believe, with your help, we can impact survivors of sex trafficking, their families, and at-risk youth in our community,” Amy says. “Together, we have the potential to transform the course of their history, as lives will be changed, hope will be restored, and a generation of survivors will rise up empowered to fight back against modern-day slavery.”

The goal is to raise $100,000 by midnight December 31 for Key2Free programs through the virtual giving campaign. Since the organization could not host its usual end-of-year gala fundraiser, Amy says they wanted to make sure donors would still have the opportunity to provide for Key2Free programs.

Although many of Key2Free’s services were virtual for a period of time this year, the organization still experienced growth in client programming. This year, it was able to launch a THRIVE2Freedom program, a survivor leadership program allowing clients to take their next steps into the community. To donate, visit TheKey2Free.org.

Georgetown Blue Santa

The Georgetown Land Sharks are one of many youth groups helping collect donations for Georgetown Blue Santa this year. For 20 years, Blue Santa has spread Christmas cheer by distributing toys to families in need.

With COVID-related job layoffs, that mission is even more important to the police department, which runs the program and expects to serve many more families this year. In 2019, it served almost 1,700 kids. Officer Delta Jolly says, “We’re seeing a lot of used-to-be dual income households with single incomes. They need to make sure they have food on the table and bills paid. But we want to make sure they’re able to provide a Christmas for their kids too.”

Blue Santa typically gives out gifts inside the Public Safety Operations and Training Center, but this year it will host a gift drive-through at the facility at 3500 DB Wood Road. While it isn’t as festive in the parking lot, Officer Jolly notes it will be faster and more efficient.

Blue Santa is asking for monetary donations instead of toys due to COVID. People may also donate year-round, as Blue Santa is not just for Christmas, although that is the focus of the program. They also donate toys any time residents have lost their belongings in fires or natural disasters. To learn more, call 512-930-2747 or visit bluesanta.georgetown.org.

Sun City Rotary Breakfast with Santa

Rotary President John Chenowith says, “Breakfast with Santa is really much, much more than just breakfast.” He says 2020 will be the first year the group hasn’t provided gifts for kids. Historically, Rotarians shopped and Santa delivered wrapped gifts by firetruck. In recent years, they switched to having parents privately shop for their families. 

For 2020, to minimize gathering, the Club will focus on food-related assistance for families selected by Georgetown ISD. To make it happen, Rotary, Georgetown Fire Dept, and GISD are seeking financial support.  The Fire Department has been The Rotary Club of Georgetown–Sun City has a “donor designated fund” (3-204) account at Chisholm Trail Communities Foundation1 (CTCF) for “Breakfast with Santa” gifts. Visit Chisholm-Trail.org. Sponsors will also be publicly acknowledged at their appropriate sponsorship level: Pacesetter = $5000+, Diamond=$1000 to $4999, Gold=$500 to $999, Silver=$250 to $499, or Bronze=$150 to $249.

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