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.

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.


The American Heart Association: Saving Lives One Heart at a Time

Stephen GeriKnown as the nation’s largest and oldest volunteer organization that concentrates on fighting heart disease and stroke, the American Heart Association was founded by six cardiologists in 1924 and now contains almost 23 million supporters and volunteers. The AHA is one of the biggest leaders in regard to funding research, providing medical tools and information to help save lives, and fighting for greater overall health policies, many of which have been implemented across the nation.

Heart disease is the number 1 cause of all deaths in the world, which is the primary reason why the American Heart Association is extremely important throughout our communities. Strokes are the second leading cause of death globally, which is why the AHA established the American Stroke Association in 1997, honing in on strokes in more detail. Annually, heart disease and strokes kill around 787,000 Americans – a number that is far too large to be ignored. The AHA has also noted that cardiovascular disease affects over 33% of all adult Americans.

Stephen GeriNationally, the American Heart Association has 156 offices and over 3,000 employees. Originally located in New York, its national headquarters moved to Dallas in 1975. The nonprofit is most widely recognized for providing public health education to help raise awareness of heart disease and establish best healthy heart practices. Not only does the AHA provide treatment guidelines to healthcare professionals in order to improve overall heart care across the
nation, but they are also the nation’s number one leader in CPR education training.

One of the AHA’s main goals is to raise awareness that heart disease and stroke is a major problem in our country  – but that they can be prevented. By not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, staying active regularly, eating well, and controlling cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, your heart’s risk for these diseases can be greatly reduced.

For more information about the American Heart Association, please visit their website here, and remember to spread awareness so that the ones you love, and the nation as a whole, can be saved one heart at a time

Fundraising for Charity

Stephen Geri Charity ideasRaising money for a specific cause or charity can be more difficult than you may think – that’s why it’s important to go about fundraising in a creative way. When fundraising is implemented creatively, you can avoid the hassle that comes with boring, repetitive fundraising techniques that most people don’t get too thrilled about. Instead, help people get motivated to donate by engaging in a fun activity within the community. Here are a few ideas of how you can set up a unique fundraiser for a great cause:

First, get the children involved. Let’s face it – people of all ages become inspired when they see young children participating in an event for charity. Whether it’s a dance recital, a play, or a sports event, parents and other donors will undoubtedly be influenced to support their children and help raise money for the cause.

Next, organizing a competition is a great way to raise money for a charity – just make sure you have everything planned out beforehand. There are plenty of options to choose from here – you can host a fashion show, a pie-eating competition, or even a basketball shooting competition in your community that everyone will want to participate in. These types of events not only get people excited to participate in, but they raise the level of community involvement and bring everyone together.

Third, host a dance-a-thon – because who wouldn’t want to go dancing for charity? The way you market this event is key because there are very different types of people for your target audience. You can speak towards couples, dance teams, athletic teams, elderly men and women, and children alike to give them each a different experience to look forward to in order to raise money for a great charity.Stephen Geri fundraising ideas

Lastly, we live in an age where people are aware of the importance of health and fitness, and are increasingly becoming involved with various fitness events – so use one for a fundraiser! Not only will you be supporting a good cause, but people will want to be involved with an event that benefits their own body and brings people together through good health. So, set up a 5K within your town, or host a yoga or zumba fitness class outside in a park – there are plenty of options you can use here, and community member will love it!

For more information on how to start a fundraising for a nonprofit organization, please read this article published on


About ACTS Missions

Stephen Geri ACTS logoACTS Missions is a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the word of God among Catholic communities through various retreats around the world. The ACTS values statement reads as follows:

  • Honor God in everything we do
  • Build relationships based on trust & respect
  • With a servant’s heart, maintain integrity & excellence in leadership programs, services and retreats

These values incorporate the heart of a servant leader as well as charisms of the Holy Spirit and working well alongside others.

ACTS Missions aims to unite Catholics across the globe through retreats that have helped men, women, children, teens, Catholics, and non-Catholics, both nationally and internationally through the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. The Cursillo retreat was the first Mission retreat that began in Spain between WWI and WWII. It’s popularity quickly grew as participants noted the profound effect that spiritual enlightenment has on individuals.

Stephen Geri ACTSThree of the men who were part of the initial spread of the Cursillo retreat into the United States founded ACTS, their names were Ed Courtney, Joe Hayes, and Marty Sablik. The experience these men had as participants of the Cursillo retreat brought them a long-lasting friendship and had ideas to improve the retreat with more relevance toward the parish. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Ed though of the main themes that the Mission should represent: Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service, coming up with the name ACTS.

ACTS’ first retreat occurred in 1987 in the San Antonio Archdiocese. Soon, 15 parishes emerged and included the ACTS program. By 1997, ACTS Missions became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and was eligible to maintain the ACTS retreated wherever needed. Larry Lopez and Tony Deosdade started ACTS Missions from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas after having a great experience with their own retreats. Now, ACTS can be found in 22 states in the U.S., along with Mexico, Canada, Honduras, England, and South Africa.

For more information about ACTS Missions, please visit their official website here.


About Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts of the United State of America advocates strong leadership opportunities for girls growing up. This program is influential in many ways, especially when it comes to advocating for important issues in our society.

stephen geri photo of girl scouts

To begin with, Girl Scouts encourages healthy living opportunities for girls. By increasing access to outdoor activities, girls learn from a young age to be connected with nature and to familiarize themselves with outdoor survival skills. In addition to educating young girls about the importance of spending time outside, the program reduces bullying and relational aggression in attempts to promote and create healthy relationship skills.

Girl Scouts also promotes economic opportunities and teaches girls the importance of gender equality. Through activities and educational events, Girl Scouts increases girls’ involvement with engineering, math, technology, and science. It also strengthens girls’ financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills by giving them the confidence that they can learn and excel in everything they do. In addition, Girl Scouts promotes a global voice for all girls by fostering global citizenship and supports a strong nonprofit community and girl scout experience, teaching girls from a young age the importance of helping those in need.

stephen geri girl scouts logo

Girl Scouts was founded by Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia on March 12th, 1912, when she assembled 18 girls into a meeting. At the meeting, Daisy spoke about her thoughts on how girls should be given the opportunity to develop spiritually, mentally, and physically without being isolated in at-home environments. A few years later, Daisy’s dream became an organization centered around the needs for young girls and is now part of an even larger organization that more than 59 million women in the United States has been a part of.

For more information about the Girl Scouts and why you should donate to this well-established nonprofit organization, check out their official website here and learn more about the history of Girl Scouts.

Donating to Charity

The idea of donations has become a blanket term, a hollow gesture that umbrellas a muddled confusion of what is right and wrong. Some people believe that donating is simply throwing money into a hat. Before we continue I want to establish the fact that donations are not simply based in currency. Donating means contributing, be it our time, our energy, and yes, sometimes even a few of our dollars.

stephen geri

There is a hesitance when it comes to donating to charity. There is a fear that large corporate organizations will cypher the money given to them, and filter said cash flow straight into their pockets. No one wants to feel like they’ve been played, especially when it comes to doing what they feel is right. Some people believe in a socio-economical darwinism, believe that charitable handouts only weaken the capitalistic agenda. It’s a heavy handed argument, slightly to the right, but even such has its own reasoning.

Although both of these avenues of thought can be explored, and dissected into moral and ethical opinion, we should not let negative instances outweigh the positive outcomes of donating to charity. Donating, and contributing to charitable organizations is a good thing.

Not only does it help the recipients of any given charity, but it also serves as a testament to the compassion of the human spirit. In moments of crisis, and natural disaster, when the unpredictable blows the top off a volcano in chile, or earthquakes ravage a village in Nepal – we are called upon to act. Not giving your time, or energy, or money does not make you a bad person by any means. It doesn’t mean that you lack compassion or that you’re oblivious to the world around you. It is your own choosing. However, the belief that giving to charity is wrong, is a poisonous thought, and an opinion I hope to sway. Especially when one has the privilege, or rather, opportunity, to choose whether or not to donate, the answer is simple. Here are a few benefits that come from charitable donations, be it time or money:

  1. It circulates money into an economy that needs to constantly have it’s revenue cogs turning.
  2. We have the ability, and resources to provide for those less fortunate
  3. Donations are tax-deductible, and benefits a companies image.
  4. Donating is contagious. When one person helps out, it inspires others to do the same.
  5. Even the smallest contributions can make large ripples.
  6. It brings a sense of self importance, and appreciation. It makes us feel good.
  7. It’s a step in the direction of where we want to be. A united people.
  8. It’s in our nature.

First Charity Post

Stephen is very active with community organizations in San Antonio, TX and beyond.  He posts frequently on happenings in the community and ways you can give back so check in again soon!