Six local charities selected for Day of Giving
By ANTHONY FLORES
Six local charities are gearing up for the Liberty Hill Day of Giving, June 26, hoping to expand their presence in the community and raise money for their causes.
The Day of Giving, which is in its third year, is an online fundraising campaign created and hosted by The Independent to help local nonprofit organizations do more to help the community.
In its first two years, the Day of Giving raised more than $70,000 combined for local charities.
Charitable organizations selected by The Independent this year include Hope House, Operation Liberty Hill, Panther Pit Crew, Liberty Hill Public Library, Spirit Reins and L4 Cares.
Hope House provides those with severe mental and physical disabilities with a permanent home where they receive the proper care they need.
“Hope House has been in Liberty Hill for over 50 years serving the community and surrounding areas,” said Hope House Development Director Erland Schulze.
Having had a longtime presence in the area, the organization has many residents who have spent the majority of their adult lives at Hope House.
“We have four homes for residents,” said Schulze. “All of our senior adults were kids in the mid-60s still living here now. They get a home as long as they need us.”
Hope House has 54 full-time staff members who work three shifts a day to provide care for residents. The job is vital because of the severity of disabilities.
“Our children can’t speak, so they’re unable to communicate, they aren’t high level and need our staff to help bathe them, use the restroom and eat,” said Schulze. “We have in-home speech and physical therapy.”
The organization has participated in the Day of Giving the past two years, and in 2019 their involvement paid dividends, more than covering their needs.
“Last year, we were trying to raise $10,000 to remodel bedrooms and bathrooms for our four homes,” said Schulze. “Doug Frazier and his sister Virginia Jackson saw us because of the Day of Giving and donated $6,000.”
“We named one of our houses Grace’s home after their mother,” said Schulze. “They donated another $11,000 for fire sprinkler systems all because they learned about us during the Day of Giving.”
This year, the goal is to raise another $10,000 to cover repairs and replacements of several essential items.
“We want to raise another $10,000 to replace all the washing machines and dryers in our homes because they get daily use, and the kids’ homes need more durable furniture,” said Schulze.
Operation Liberty Hill
Operation Liberty Hill has been a vital part of the community for a number of years.
The organization provides a food pantry and thrift store serving those less fortunate.
“The Day of Giving gives us a lot more visibility,” said Operation Liberty Hill Executive Director Susan Baker. “A lot of the people who donate during the Day of Giving end up donating more during the year.”
This year, the goal for the food pantry is to raise money for their Summer Snack Program and their Laces for Liberty Hill Program. The Summer Snack program provides food for children who may not have meals available to them outside of school during the summer.
“This year, the money is going to our summer snack program since there isn’t a summer lunch program in the district,” said Baker. We also do Laces for Liberty Hill, which provides athletic shoes for kids who need them. Anything we don’t spend on snacks goes to that.”
Residents can donate money or requested food items to include in the healthy snack packs.
“We’re going to provide a complete list of foods we put into the healthy snack packs, and people can donate specific items if they want to help that way,” said Baker. “Our goal is to make sure every child has a meal during the summer months.”
Spirit Reins is participating in the Day of Giving this year to help raise awareness locally.
The organization utilizes horses to help victims of severe trauma.
“Spirit Reins focuses on helping people who have dealt with major traumas in their lives through equine-based therapy,” said Development Director Austin Painchaud. “We work to help people normalize.”
Patients involved with the group are paired with a counselor and a horse, and slowly work to create a bond with the goal that it helps them to be able to rebuild relationships.
“Horses can tell when a person isn’t feeling good and will react to that,” said Painchaud. “Our goal is using horses to ease that person back into normalcy through hour-long sessions slowly. We want to help people relearn how to build relationships.”
While they do offer riding therapy as well, it’s limited in favor of relationship-building techniques.
“We do some riding therapy because it is believed that the motion of riding a horse can help realign the brain mentally, but we mainly focus on just interactions between patients and our horses,” he said.
Liberty Hill Public Library
The Liberty Hill Public Library is taking part in the Day of Giving to raise money to help increase digital literacy throughout the community.
“We want to teach more digital literacy,” said Librarian Angela Palmer. “These are things we’ve been asked for, and there’s nobody in town teaching these things.”
Palmer sees this as a vital need in the community.
“I see people come into the library every day that don’t have basic computer skills,” she said. “In this day and age, that limits the chances for jobs or anything. You need to know how to use a computer these days.”
Palmer hopes to use any money raised from the Day of Giving to better equip the library with the equipment and even Wi-Fi hotspots they need to meet their goals.
“There’s a need for teaching basic computer skills to seniors or helping people fill out job applications,” said Palmer. “What we’re going to be raising money for is laptops and a big TV to mount on the wall so we can teach what we’re doing. We need laptops and coding software.”
Along with their focus on adults, Palmer wants to help build a digital skill foundation for children.
“We want to do more coding classes for kids,” said Palmer. “Learning to code is essential. It’s the big wave of the future.”
The library is hoping to raise $20,000 for new equipment.
Aside from monetary help there are other ways members of the community can help.
“The easiest way for people to help out is to donate,” said Palmer. “If they have any skills and they want to teach, they can come and help us do that.”
L4 Cares is a relatively young organization, celebrating its third anniversary this year. The organization focuses on helping members of the military as well as seniors and children.
“We focus on four segments of the population that can get looked over by other larger nonprofit organizations,” said L4 Cares founder Kendra Cofer. “It’s a focus on our military, including active duty and veterans, we’ve partnered with the VA in Temple to support about 15 of their current programs.”
L4 Cares pairs with different retailers, including Walmart, J Crew, and Nike, then donate pallets of goods to members of the military and others.
“We pick up a donation from retailers, it could be a pallet or two per week of brand new items,” said Cofer. “We decided where the need is in the community and donate. We felt that the VA and military was our best bet.”
Beyond the soldiers themselves, the organization also does what they can to help the families of those fighting for the country.
“We do care packages from the community for families who currently have loved ones who are deployed to let them know that the community cares about them,” said Cofer. “We include activities for the kids. Like painting pottery for the soldier, and we do welcome home parades.”
For the Day of Giving, L4 Cares is seeking to raise $15,000 to purchase a van that will make the delivery of goods much easier.
Panther Pit Crew
The Panther Pit Crew is working to help youth organizations in Liberty Hill.
“Our mission is we want to give back to the community and have fun doing it,” said crew member Arthur Zamarripa.
The Pit Crew helps youth organizations by providing them with funds to do various things in their programs like taking club trips or purchasing supplies.
“What we’ve done in the past and what we continually strive to do is provide opportunities to the various organizations in Liberty Hill, whether it be cheerleading or the STEM group,” said Zamarripa. “Any of those organizations. We try to provide resources to them to help fund programs they have throughout the year.”
The organization’s primary way of raising funds for school programs is through its football tailgate. Organizations at tailgates compete and earn points with the winners receiving donations.
“With our tailgates, our primary source to get recognition is to promote team and spirit at the football games,” said Zamarripa. “We try to have a great tailgate atmosphere and see groups compete for points and then reward organizations for their spirit.”
Panther Pit Crew is hoping that the Day of Giving will help spread awareness of their cause and the various organizations they support.
“I think the biggest thing we get from the Day of Giving is people seeing us,” said Zamarripa. “Learning that we’re a group of guys out there trying to have a good time while helping the community.”
The goal for the group is to raise $20,000 to be distributed to various school organizations during tailgate events in the fall.