Season for Caring raises more than $800,000, breaking record


It was the story of Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez, a young father who was trying to take care of his 4-year-old daughter with Down syndrome after the loss of his wife in August to cancer. And it was the story of Deloris Fields, a young mom with metastatic breast cancer, who was trying to make it to her son’s first birthday and beyond. And the story of Rosalba Martínez-López, a mom with cervical cancer who wondered how her four children and grandchild would go on without her.

The community read their stories and the stories of nine other families featured in Statesman Season for Caring, and they gave.

As of Wednesday morning, Season for Caring has raised $805,923, the most ever in its 18-year history. The previous record was $780,000 in 2007.

Season for Caring has now raised more than $10.5 million since 1999 to help local nonprofit groups throughout Central Texas. Donations are being accepted through Jan. 31, and checks already received are still being counted by the Austin Community Foundation, which administers the fund.

“Year after year, our generous readers and business partners such as Factory Mattress, P. Terry’s, Star Furniture and Whataburger embrace the Statesman Season for Caring campaign, and prove that, together, we can make a difference in our community,” said American-Statesman Publisher Susie Gray. “It’s an honor to announce that 2016 was the most successful season on record, raising more cash and in-kind donations than ever before in the 18-year history. On behalf of the campaign and hundreds of Central Texas families, thank you to our readers and business partners. I would also like to acknowledge the Austin Community Foundation for administering the Season for Caring fund since its inception in 1999.”

Each year Season for Caring features a dozen families nominated by local nonprofits. The money raised helps the featured families first, but then donations get used by the nonprofit agencies throughout the year to help hundreds of other families with basic needs such as rent, groceries, medical care and transportation. Season for Caring has thus far distributed $22,000 this season to each agency. The rest of the donations will be distributed at the beginning of February.

The gifts came in big and small ways. A $100,000 matching grant from the Sheth family brought in an additional $197,000 from Dec. 14-27. Whataburger began the program on Nov. 27 with a $25,000 gift. P. Terry’s Burger Stand held its annual Season for Caring Giving Back Day on Dec. 10 and donated a day’s profits, which brought in $31,640. Factory Mattress donated new beds, worth $28,000, to all the Season for Caring agencies and even replaced mattress donations that were stolen from a truck at its warehouse.

For the second year, Cookies for Caring at the Driskill Hotel sold out, and this year, you could bid on items from Statesman advertisers.

Furniture companies Star Furniture and Austin’s Couch Potatoes each gave a family a house full of new furniture. Families got access to medical care, including a motorized wheelchair, eyeglasses and hearing aids, and the Capital Area Dental Foundation donated dental care. Elementary school kids, middle school and high school students took up collections of gifts for a featured family.

Individuals donated cars and laptops. Schools gave training programs and college tuition. Families also are on their way to living in improved homes, new apartments and mobile homes because of donations.

This Season for Caring also has come with extreme heartache. Rosalba Martínez-López died Dec. 2. Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez’s daughter, Emely, was diagnosed with leukemia in December and died Jan. 5. Sheila King’s family accepted the nomination and then lost two family members that week.

Each of the families still have items on their wish lists and still need monetary donations to help the featured families and so many more.

“Having Season for Caring raises the level of hope,” said Z Blair, a client coordinator at Care Communities, which supports people with cancer or HIV/AIDS. “We are able to lift the quality of life of several of our clients. That wouldn’t be possible without the funds.”



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