Austin is a generous city and there is no better proof of that than during the Austin American-Statesman’s annual Season for Caring campaign, which empowers the community to share the holiday spirit with those in need.
This year, Season for Caring begins its 20th campaign. Since the beginning, Austin Community Foundation has been the Statesman’s partner, connecting donors to families and the nonprofit organizations that help them.
“Season for Caring is a unique program and Austin Community Foundation has been with us since day one,” said Jeff Simecek, who co-manages the Season for Caring campaign at the Statesman with Nicole Villalpando, the Statesman Season for Caring editor.
Each year, local nonprofits nominate recipient families and 12 are chosen to participate in the campaign. The selected families all face a unique challenge, one which they never expected they would be forced to face: unexpected illness or debilitating medical issues, the loss of a spouse or caretaker, trauma, or the potential of homelessness during the holidays.
Season for Caring began with six families in six agencies and raised $140,000 in the first year. Over its lifetime, the campaign has raised more than $11 million in cash and in-kind goods and services, all of which have benefited the featured families and hundreds of others like them who are also supported by the nonprofits.
The Foundation receives nearly 2,000 charitable donations ranging from $1 to thousands from Statesman readers during the holiday season. Amy Allen, senior philanthropic officer at the Foundation, remembers the early days of the campaign when stacks of envelopes containing a form clipped from the newspaper and a check arrived daily at the office.
“Each envelope was like opening a gift—a gift of one person helping another,” said Allen. "Anyone with any size donation makes a difference in someone’s life. For nearly 20 years, we’ve seen an outpouring of love and generosity.”
Today, more than half of the donations are processed online, but the Foundation still receives many checks in the mail from readers all over the Austin area. While the workload has changed, the spirit of giving that Season for Caring celebrates is welcomed and encouraged every year.
Read about this year’s Season for Caring families, look at their wish lists and GIVE.
Idris Haroun and, his daughter, Sara are among the 2018 Season for Caring families. Photo by Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman