Season for Caring breaks record with $857,000 donated so far

Jan 02, 2018
Qiling Wang
Nikki Jones cuddles with her 6-year-old daughter, Adeline, at their South Austin home. Jones has common variable immune deficiency, which makes her susceptible to diseases. She has to take weekly infusions to help fight them off and is frequently tired and homebound. QILING WANG / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

For the second time in 10 years, Statesman Season for Caring has broken a record.

Since November, the annual giving campaign has raised $648,576 in monetary donations and another $208,817 in in-kind donations, for a total of $857,393. It passes the 2016 Season for Caring total of $840,760, which was the first time the campaign raised more than the previous record in 2007. And checks received at the end of December are still being counted.

Some Season for Caring donations came in big ways with a matching $100,000 grant from the Sheth family, a $25,000 donation from Whataburger and a $34,011 donation from P. Terry’s Giving Back Day on Dec. 9. All of the featured families that needed it received new beds from Factory Mattress, vet care from Firehouse Animal Health Center and dental care from Capital Area Dental Foundation.

“The generosity of individuals, businesses and family foundations helps not only our 12 families featured this year and the agencies that represent them, but hundreds more in Central Texas,” Statesman Publisher Susie Gray Biehle said. “The impact this will have in our community should make us all proud.”

Thanksgiving weekend, the Statesman introduced the 12 local families selected for the 19th Statesman Season for Caring. We shared the stories of their daily struggles and invited the community to make donations of goods and services as well as money.

The families represented hundreds of others throughout Central Texas who are served by local nonprofit organizations, which nominated the featured families.

Since 1999, Season for Caring has given community organizations more than $11.4 million. There’s still time to give. Donations will be accepted through Jan. 31.

Season for Caring agencies will help the featured families first: These include Joyce and Kenneth Marvel, who both have intellectual disabilities and are 74 and 65. They need help with home repairs as well as more in-home health care.

They also include Nikki Jones, 35, and her daughter Adeline, 6. Nikki Jones has common variable immune deficiency and a life expectancy of only another 10 years. She wanted help setting up her daughter for a future without her.

And they include Jazmyne Johnson, 24, and her three children, one of whom has developmental delays because of a skull abnormality. Johnson wants to move into her own apartment and go to school as well as have a car to get her children to their HeadStart program.

After the featured families’ wish lists are completed, the nonprofit agencies use the donations to help hundreds of other families they serve with rent, utilities, medical bills, transportation, groceries and education expenses.

“The success of Season for Caring is huge for the CareBox Program,” said Jillian Domingue, CareBox executive director. “It has helped us provide free critical care supplies to cancer patients year-round. With record-breaking numbers, we are ecstatic knowing that money will go toward allowing us to serve even more people facing cancer in our community in 2018.”

For Season for Caring agency Interfaith Action of Central Texas, which serves many immigrant families, this means looking at which of its clients need help with rent, bus passes, translation dictionaries, access to language classes and more.

“We can be even more impactful,” said Simone Talma Flowers, the agency’s executive director.

Organizations have had some concerns about the effect of changes in the tax laws, since some donors might no longer be able to claim certain itemized deductions, including charitable donations. Season for Caring saw big donations come through in the waning days of 2017, more so than usual.

Talma Flowers said she hopes people will continue to give whether they take a deduction or not. “Why are you giving? That doesn’t change,” she said. “You’re going to affect change.”