Giving Without Receiving: Why Shelters Need Your Donations this Season

Stephen Geri Donations and Charities


When cooler temperatures roll around for the winter, we all know that the holidays are coming soon after. Although San Antonio and the general state of Texas have an average of about 220 sunny days per year, the weather can still bring temperatures in the low 30s and 40s during the winter months. Winter is known as the “giving season” where charitable and philanthropic efforts increase and shelters are able to provide for those in need. Whether you donate food, money, or clothing, shelters need your help.


Providing a Warm Meal

Food banks, pantries, and kitchens are local organizations that provide warm meals to people within the community. At a place like the San Antonio Food Bank, or any other food bank for that matter, you can contribute in a few ways:


  • Volunteer
  • Give a Monetary Donation
  • Donate food


Fighting hunger is what food banks do on a daily basis. Giving a warm meal to an individual or family in need requires volunteers and donations to remain open. No matter what way you give to a food bank, whether that be your time, your money, or your donations of food, you’re giving someone a basic necessity of life.


Handing Out Winter Clothing

Clothing collections are another way shelters are able to provide for those in need. Although clothing is collected on a year round basis, it’s even more critical in the winter as a means to staying warm. Shelters collect clothing items such as:


  • Winter coats
  • Socks
  • Pants
  • Sweaters
  • Shoes


The great thing about donating clothing is that not only do you get to declutter your closet, but you get a chance to give something you no longer need to someone who can truly use it as a gift. There are plenty of places that collect clothing and other items to give to those in need.


Keeping Animals Healthy

Not all shelters are human focused, rather some shelters are open to help pets. Animal shelters such as the San Antonio Humane Society collect donations in order to provide a place for homeless animals and promote adoption, giving animals a second chance to a good home. Most shelters need monetary donations and volunteers the most. You can simply volunteer an hour of your time to walk a dog or play with a kitten and make a big impact on the welfare of animals.

No matter how you choose to give back this season, the truth is that you are providing a need in someone else’s life. Even small gestures can have lasting impacts on the lives of those in need.

Find Out How These Charities are Helping Houston

Stephen Geri Helping Houston Charities

In the aftermath of disaster, it’s natural for those unaffected to want to donate money or other necessary items however – many fear that their donations will go toward fake charities. To avoid fake charities, make sure you are donating to a known and reputable source. Below is a list of charities around the nation that have come together to help Houston recover from Hurricane Harvey, with true and trustworthy motives.


Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund


The mayor of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner, received an overwhelming number of responses with people wanting to help those who faced devastation after Hurricane Harvey. This relief fund accepts tax-deductible donations for victims of flooding. In philanthropic efforts, donors can provide funding that will help a multitude of families and businesses recovering from record flooding in the greater Houston area.


Convoy of Hope


Taking teams of volunteers to help with the relief of Hurricane Harvey, Convoy of Hope is humanitarian organization. Organizing groups of thousands of volunteers, collecting donations of money, food, and items of necessity, Convoy of Hope is a great charity to donate to. You can follow along with the Convoy of Hope hurricane relief data, seeing how many volunteers, how many hours, how many deliveries Convoy has sent to Texas. Additionally, in the wake of Irma, Convoy is rounding volunteers to send for relief to victims suffering Irma’s damage.


Save the Children


This organization, Save the Children, is fundraising to help provide relief to children and families suffering from the massive flooding and displacement after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and other locations in Texas and Louisiana. Save the Children sends responders to provide shelters and supplies to victims of the storm. Save the Children also provides the opportunity for businesses, organizations, or even public schools to hold fundraisers, donating the proceeds to STC.


Houston Food Bank


The Houston Food Bank is a secure organization that collects donations in order to provide meals for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. As thousands are still without homes and staying in shelters, Houston is in desperate need for food and water. Through the Houston Food Bank, donors can donate just $1 to provide 3 meals. There are other options to donate higher percentages such as $75 providing 225, $100 providing 300 and even $500 providing 1,500 meals. Food is a necessity for every human, and during the disaster relief, it’s in highest need for those without homes right now.


Wildlife Center of Texas

In addition to human beings suffering from the damage and displacement of Hurricane Harvey, animals suffer too. The Wildlife Center of Texas doesn’t receive any governmental support whatsoever, and 100% of their funding comes from donors such as individuals and corporations. This organization helps the wildlife of Texas such as raptors, birds, reptiles, and other orphaned mammals.


6 Key Components to Fundraising for Charity

Stephen Geri Fundraising

Fundraising for charity is a wonderful thing; there is no doubt about that. However, the fundraising process can be a bit of a logistics nightmare if it isn’t thoroughly planned out. Since you want to make the most out of your charity drive, you will want to consider a few key components for developing and executing a successful fundraising event for the charity of your choice. As you start to formulate your plans, keep these following six key components in mind.


1. Establish Your Intent and Goals

Start off by establishing your intent. What is it you hope to accomplish? What are your goals for the fundraiser? You will likely have more than one goal, which is typical for fundraising events. Select a reasonable amount of money that you want to get from your efforts. This amount might depend on how long you intend to run your fundraiser and what kind of turnout you expect.


2. Budget and Pool Your Resources

What types of resources are already at your disposal? Pool them together and assess what you already have versus what you will need to invest in. You will also need to draft an inventory of expenses. How much will you be paying for a booth rental at an event? How much will it cost to get printed materials? Remember, your budget must include your fundraising goals, and be sure to leave room in your budget for any unforeseen additional expenses.


3. Market Toward Your Target Audience

Who is most likely to donate to your charity? Why should they donate? Knowing your target audience and what motivates them to support your selected cause is crucial. Your marketing procedures should be present in your social media accounts since the Internet is now the fastest way to spread the word about a fundraiser. Make sure your pitch to your target audience is concise, free of flowery words, and doesn’t read like a guilt-trip into donating.


4. Settle On a Sales/Donations Plan

How are people going to donate? Do you want to have different donation levels in place at your event? Settle on a cohesive sales/donation plan that will attract the most attention from your target audience.


5. Enlist Volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of fundraising! Enlist a few volunteers to assist in your fundraiser. This helps you reduce costs of paying employees to attend an event and encourages giving behaviors.


6. Show Your Gratitude

This seems like a no-brainer, but show your gratitude to donors and volunteers. Incentivize donations with small but, desirable rewards, such as a raffle for a gift card or gift basket.

Your next fundraiser doesn’t have to be a headache. Taking these key components into consideration can help you better plan a fundraiser. The better you plan it, the better chance you have at meeting and possibly exceeding your goals.


Non-Traditional Ways to Give

Stephen Geri Non TraditionalThe idea of philanthropy, giving back or volunteering of any sorts typically revolves around monetary donations. Anyone with a passion to give back should be open to the various ways and opportunities charity presents, even if they stray from traditional ideas. Here are a few innovative ways you can get involved.

Clothing Donations

Thrift stores are charitable non-profits that aim to provide affordable, gently used clothing to local communities. The fashion industry is constantly raising it’s prices, lowering the amount of people who can afford new items to their wardrobe. On top of that, many can’t afford brand new items. That’s why thrift stores are entirely necessary to providing clothing in your community. If you have items in your closet that you haven’t worn in months, or years even, consider donating your clothing to a thrift or consignment shop in your area. Not only will the clothing you donate go to those who can’t afford items elsewhere, but thrift stores give percentages of their revenue to supporting intellectual disabilities as well as the homeless.

Solve Community Problem

You don’t have to own or even be part of a non-profit organization to make a difference in your community. If you see an issue arise or know of a problem, find ways to solve it. Having the right connections in your community can bring a team together. Reach out to build your team through flyers and advertising. Let them know what the issue is, when you plan to do something about it and most importantly how you need their help. Together, you and your community can combat a local issue for a better, brighter community.

Host a Benefit

If there is a cause or issue you are passionate about, host a benefit or fundraiser and donate to that cause. Not only will this help the cause financially, but it will take it a step further by spreading awareness. Often the word of mouth is a great way to get others to care about a cause. This opens up the opportunity for so many people to give back, beyond just yourself. Use this time to show people what you care about and how they can get involved. 

Volunteer Your Skills

Your community can utilize your skills and knowledge. If you have a particular talent, business or craft, volunteer that in any way you can think of. If you have a landscaping business, offer those services to the elderly in your community or to those who don’t have the ability to take care of their exterior. Another skillset that any community can use is painters. Whether you paint homes, offices or other buildings in your community, make your community look clean with a fresh coat of paint. There are so many more skills and opportunities to give back to your community.

Giving back to your community doesn’t have to be at all conventional. Any idea you have to give back, your community will appreciate. Time goes beyond money. Your community will be a better place if one person acts to make a difference.

Charity Spotlight: CAST for Kids

Stephen Geri CAST

One of my favorite ways to spend time with my grandchildren is by taking them fishing on the lake. The look on my grandchildren’s face when they feel the strike of a largemouth bass is something I will never get sick of. Sadly, there are so many children across the country who will never get to experience that feeling for a number of reasons. The CAST (Catch A Special Thrill) for Kids Foundation is a nonprofit that started in 1991 with the vision of pairing avid fisherman with children who have disabilities in an effort to introduce those children to the excitement of fishing. The nonprofit has since grown into three programs: CAST for Kids, Take a Warrior Fishing, and Fishing for Kids.

CAST for Kids

CAST for Kids is the flagship program of the foundation with the goal of teaching kids the basics of fishing. Events are hosted at a local body of water where participants are outfitted with a rod, t-shirt, hat, and tackle box. Each participant is then paired with an experienced volunteer and accompanied on the boat with a parent or guardian. After a morning on the lake, the participants are treated to a BBQ lunch and an awards ceremony. Along with exposing children to the sport of fishing, the program seeks to educate all participants, parents, sportsmen, and volunteers to the capabilities of children with disabilities.

Fishing Kids

Established in 1996, the Fishing Kids program is built around the slogan, “Getting more kids fishing more often.” The events are held for anywhere between 300-800 urban youth ranging in age from 5-14. Every participant receives a t-shirt and a rod & reel combo to keep. The kids are broken up into groups and fish for roughly an hour from the shore with an instructor. There are four main goals to the program:

  1. Provide a meaningful and enjoyable fishing opportunity to local youth
  2. Promote fishing as an alternative leisure activity
  3. Offer education elements such as angler ethics, fish identification, and water safety to local youth
  4. Develop skills that provide a lifelong hobby

Take a Warrior Fishing

The newest of the three programs, Take a Warrior Fishing, was established in 2011. It was developed to support military personnel, specifically those assigned to Warrior Transition Commands, and their families. Events are held annually at waterways across the United States. TWF aims to support positive social interactions with the civilian world, increase family interaction, introduce outdoor recreation as a method of therapy, and empower veterans to advocate for positive self-growth and change.

CAST is always looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in hosting an event, volunteering as an instructor, or donating in some form, you can find more information here.


Spotlight: Corner Store’s Donation To The Children’s Hospital Of San Antonio

Spotlight- Corner Store’s Donation To The Children’s Hospital Of San Antonio

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s great to look back at some of the local San Antonio businesses that gave back to their communities. While we talked about a number of amazing Texas nonprofits, we did not talk about some of the incredible for-profit companies that gave back after raising money for an important cause. One such company is Corner Store, a Texas-based chain of grocery stores. Corner Store is known for its excellent customer service, and it turns out that it’s not too shabby on the community service front either.

Corner Store gave back in a big way this past summer after raising money from its dedicated customers earlier in the year. Corner Store’s customers purchased $1 and $5 Miracle Balloon icons in April of this year, and this summer, it added up. The company ended up donating more than $493,000 to the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. This is a 15 percent increase from the amount that Corner Store donated to Christus Santa Rosa Health System’s pediatric campus in 2015. This increase in donation is a testament to Corner Store’s success as well as its spirit of giving.

John Bel, the President of the Children’s hospital of San Antonio was extremely thankful for these funds. He stated that the fund would help to support Christus’ efforts toward providing world-class care to children in the San Antonio region. In this way, Corner Store contributed to the health of its region not only by selling fresh produce but also by donating money to an outstanding cause.

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio has long prioritized fundraising. In November of 2015, the hospital’s foundation had raised over $7 million through a capital campaign. The goal was to raise $80 million by the end of 2016, and it’s clear they have well surpassed that.

However, Bel has communicated that the continued transformation of Christus’ former City Centre campus into a new children’s hospital will require more funding. Funding is also necessary to expand the spectrum of pediatric care in San Antonio in the long run. Bel stated that philanthropy will be crucial for the future, adding that the hospital needed to raise between $200 million and $250 million by the end of 2022. Then, in November 2016, he stated that the endeavor could cost significantly more than he originally planned.

Corner Store did not stop at this donation. The company is continuing to help direct more funding to the children’s hospital and to similar facilities throughout the country. For example, Corner Store raised more than $2.1 million nationally during its 30-day campaign to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The money raised by Corner Store for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio will help the facility buy life-saving equipment, therapy services, charitable care and research. Ever since 1995, Corner Store has been a partner of CMN Hospitals. Over 22 years, it has raised funds for the facilities of these hospitals through a number of campaigns. The donations throughout these campaigns have totaled over $25 million.

Corner Store is dedicated to helping not only its customers, but the children’s hospitals in its community and nationwide. If you want to support a company that engages heavily in philanthropic efforts, Corner Store is the place to shop.

The 3 Legs of a Successful Mentoring Program

The 3 Legs of a Successful Mentoring Program

While running any mentoring program takes time and commitment, all to often there isn’t a comprehensive understanding of the core elements needed to ensure the mentoring program’s success. For a mentoring program to be truly effective it must have a stable foundation.

A three-side structure is arguably one of the most stable foundations known to man, as physics demands the force be divided equally wherever pressure is applied. However, as strong as a three-sided structure is, when one side is removed the structure collapses. One of the most effective mentoring-program models borrows from the strength of the three-sided structure, with there being three essentials to make the mentoring program a success.

Leg 1) Program Manager

Mentoring programs cannot run without a competent manager. While technological advancements provide companies with access to databases and even automation of some key administrative tasks, without someone capable steering the ship the program will eventually run aground.

A qualified program manager ensures continued support and will constantly provide program evaluation on effectiveness while being able to recommend improvements. Most importantly, a competent program manager will guide, encourage and support participants at both an individual and group level to ensures the organization and its participants receive the most benefit from the program.

Leg 2) Expertise

Even through it is a powerful means of achieving organizational objectives, a mentoring program is also a major investment for any organization, demanding considerable time from key members of its staff. As such, it stands to reason that a mentoring program using best-practices techniques, professional support and training will maximize return on investment.

Here there are two options:

1) Hire a program manager who possesses specific mentoring experience and expertise.
2) Provide outside support, guidance and resources for an inexperienced program manager.

Leg 3) Technology

Effective mentoring programs are coming to rely increasingly on new technologies to optimize success. When a program is broad in scope, or covers a wide geographical territory, technologies such as webinar access and eLearning software are essential. These technology permit mentoring programs to be accessible anytime by anyone, even in remote areas, and also allow participants to be matched up even in distance regions or countries. Whenever possible, these applications should be integrated to make access easy while optimizing the user experience.


Why a Two-Legged Model Falls Short:

The most crucial thing to realize is a successful mentoring program takes all three legs to work, and if you remove one leg your program will topple. Even worse, if two legs are removed your mentoring program will most likely never get off the ground. Consider these three examples:

Program Manager and Expertise:

If a mentoring program is not very large it may be possible to run the program with a qualified program manager and good resources. However, as soon as your mentoring program starts to grow, or requires a broader geographic reach, having access to the proper technology will be indispensable if you hope to hold your mentoring program together without placing undo strain your program manager.

Program Manager and Technology:

While it is definitely possible to start a mentoring program without adequate expertise, your program will not be able to reach it full potential without a competent program leader. You can certainly find an eager, albeit inexperienced, volunteer to administer the program, and the program may even run smoothly, for a while. However, there is no question your mentoring-program will fall well short of its potential if the program was not properly designed, or if the program participants weren’t prepared to enter into a successful learning relationship.

Expertise and Technology:

While it may seem plausible, and even possible, to build a solid mentoring program with only expert resources and technology, without the personal attention of a competent program manager the mentors and their pupils will tend to lose momentum. While some of the more motivated pairs will find success regardless of the strength of the program, most will lose their way.

All in all, any successful mentoring program must be primarily focused on delivering organizational objectives. Expertise is required when designing a successful program to be able to address, and continually evaluate and improve, core objectives. Expert training and professional resources are indispensable in fostering strong mentoring relationships, increasing participants skill levels and optimizing program outcomes. The only way to accomplish the objective is to have your mentoring program stands on all three legs.

The New Retirement: 3 Things to Think about Now

Stephen Geri retire

It is never too early to plan for retirement because what you think about and do now could have a significant impact on your future. Being 30 to 40 years away from retirement doesn’t mean that you can wait until you are in your 30s or 40s to start planning for retirement. Start managing your money now and reap the rewards when you have paid your occupational dues. Below, you will find three things to think about doing now so that you can be comfortable after retirement.

1. Retirement planning should begin with your first job

It may seem like you have a lot of time. However, time can be your friend or your enemy when it comes to retirement planning. It can be your friend if you start planning early. It can be your enemy if you wait and find yourself 20 years in the future wishing you had started planning as soon as possible.

If your first job is with a company that offers a 401(k) plan, sign up as soon as you are able. If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) option, you can have a percentage of your paycheck deposited into an IRA. There is a very good chance that you will find yourself older and retired someday, so you’ll be glad you started that retirement plan. To keep the retirement money growing, you can set up automatic contributions to your retirement accounts. Getting accustomed to these contributions from the very start means they will be virtually painless over time.

As for the ideal income percentage to contribute, 7% is a good number in the beginning. Over time you can increase the percentage to 15%. That 15% will continue to grow in dollar amount as your income increases over time.

2. Difficult times are going to happen

Unexpected events are going to happen that will require you to spend money. It is important to start stashing money into an emergency fund right now. This fund should be accessible so you can withdraw the money without any fuss.

The easiest way to set up the emergency fund is by diverting a portion of your income into an interest bearing savings account. This is in addition to any money you are diverting into your retirement accounts. The last thing you want to do when faced with an emergency situation, such as job loss, is withdraw money from your retirement accounts.

Using retirement accounts to satisfy an emergency will cost you even more than the retirement money you’re losing. For example, you may withdraw $10,000 from a retirement account because you lost your job. If you are in the 25% tax bracket, you will lose $2,500 to the IRS in taxes and another $1,000 penalty for withdrawing the money before reaching 55 years old. For an IRA, the age in which you can withdraw without a penalty is 59 ½, but certain exceptions may exist if you must withdraw early. In all reality, the $10,000 you withdrew is actually $6,500 after taxes and penalty. That is also $10,000 less in wealth you have upon retirement.

3. Know that money has value

When you’re young, it can be easy to see something online or on a store shelf and want to buy it. That $500 4K TV may look pretty good. If you have the money, it can be tempting to buy it. If you think about how many hours of work you have to do for that television, you may reconsider the potential purchase.

The same concept can apply to credit since you want to limit credit use. The last thing you need when you retire is to have high credit card debt. If you apply the same concept of placing value on money when making purchases on a credit card, you may charge less. In fact, it is great for your credit to charge less, pay off the balance, charge again, and then pay off the balance again. Having a high credit score is what you need to buy a home and a nice automobile.

Now is the Time

Now is the time for you to start planning. If you don’t have children yet, you may. It is good to start putting your affairs in order as soon as you start working so that you can take care of yourself and your current and future family. You will be glad that you did the day you clock out for the last time and live the rest of your life doing the things you love.

4 Texas Nonprofits That Are Making A Difference

Many multi coloured hands waving and celebrating

One of the most rewarding and thoughtful things you can do is giving back to your community. With so many nonprofits out there, it can be hard to know which one to volunteer with or to donate to. If you live in Texas, you’re in luck because this state is filled with a number of incredible nonprofits. No matter what cause you care about, you’re bound to find an organization in Texas that works for that cause.

Here are a few of the best nonprofits in Texas:

1) Soldiers’ Angels

Located in San Antonio, Texas, Soldiers’ Angels works to provide aid and comfort to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as their families. Soldiers’ Angels was founded by the mother of two American soldiers. This organization helps veterans as well as wounded and deployed personnel in a number of ways, providing individualized and immediate assistance. Volunteer “Angels” adopt individual deployed troops whom they are able to stay in touch with during their deployment.

2) Minnie’s Food Pantry

This nonprofit strives to combat the issue of hunger. Founded by Dr. Cheryl “Action” Jackson in honor of her mother, Minnie Hawthorne-Ewing D.D., this organization operates entirely on the funds of the people and the community. A number of larger corporations have gotten involved with Minnie’s Food Pantry. Volunteers have come from Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, and Fossil. Food has been contributed by Market Street, Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut. Located in Plano, Texas, Minnie’s Food Pantry provides several programs to meet the needs of the hungry people who walk through their doors. This organization has been featured on The Food Network documentary, Good Morning America, The Talk, The Ellen Show, The Steve Harvey Show, and Entertainment Tonight. This lauded organization is a wonderful place to volunteer or donate if you care about feeding the hungry.

3) In-Sync Exotic, Inc

In-Sync Exotics is dedicated to rescuing abused, neglected or unwanted exotic felines. This organization hopes to educate the public on the unique characteristics of the animals that live there and the irresponsible, and often illegal, nature of the ownership and captive breeding of exotic wild animals. This nonprofit organization also aims to inform people of the need to stronger legislation against those who abuse exotic wild animals. In-Sync Exotics also has a community outreach program which visits schools, churches and other organizations to spread their message. They also offer scheduled group tours of the sanctuary 7 days a week.

4) Miracle Foundation

Located in Austin, Texas, the Miracle Foundation works to change the lives of the world’s orphans by providing them with ways to help themselves. The Miracle Foundation’s proven and sustainable model is based upon the established 12 Rights of the Child. This organization puts this model into practice by giving purposeful employment to local people who need work. The Miracle Foundation also funds scholarships for education, transforms local orphanages into homes, and trains displaced women to become cherished mothers.

No matter what issues you strive to fix in the world, there is a nonprofit organization in Texas that aligns with your values. These organizations are making a huge impact on the world, and you can too by getting involved.

Charity: Water


Around 660 million people worldwide are do not have access to clean water. That amounts to nearly twice the population of the United States or 9% of the world’s total population. Having access to clean water is often something that people take for granted. Water can play such a large role in the daily lives of people all over the world. Below are 4 facts about water that may change the way you value water and the many ways that you use it.


  • Diseases and Infections from the use of dirty water kill more each year than every form of violence, this statistic includes war and combat. Around 40% of those recorded deaths are children ages 5 and younger.
  • Each year African women spend 40 billion hours fetching water. These hours take away from schooling, food gathering and income-producing work.
  • With access to clean water stable plumbing, more children, specifically females will be able to attend school and not have to miss 1 week out of every month at home.
  • 72% of the water collected in Sub-Saharan Africa is carried out by women. Access to clean water can give them their life back.

Why People Need Clean Water

  • Proper hygiene can be maintained with clean water to bath in. Cleaner people means fewer diseases.
  • Over three quarters of disease in underdeveloped countries is waterborne and can be combatted with access to clean water
  • The less time that people are spending searching for clean water, the more time they have to attend school.
  • More clean water gives people access to safe cooking practices
  • Economic development can be jumpstarted as every 1$ invest in clean water can yield a return of around 8$ economically

Addressing The Issue

Charity: water works with local communities worldwide to promote and implement sustainable water solutions to help assure that everyone worldwide has access to clean water. Since Charity: water was founded in 2006, 20,000 projects have been funded which has resulted in 6.3 million people having access to clean water in 24 countries. This includes the installation of new water collection systems and the repairing of old ones. 100% of donations are used to fund projects, since operations expenses are covered privately.

How to Contribute

  • Donate on a monthly, daily or one time basis. Charity: water accepts checks, stocks, PayPal and cash.
  • Sponsor an entire water project that will be started or continued at an appropriate location. With a donation of $10,000 or more, an entire community can have access to clean water.
  • Pledge your birthday to Charity: water, instead of asking your friends and family for gifts, ask them for donations. An average of 38 people get access to water from a birthday campaign.


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