DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas homeless shelter wants to get the word out that charitable giving is needed after the holidays.
Non-profits workers say there’s always an uptick in charitable giving and donations during November and December, then contributions fall almost flat after December 31.
To help their clients Austin Street Center, a Dallas shelter, is hosting a Christmas in July donation campaign.
Often the homeless are thought of as being in exceptional need during harsh winter weather, but during the harsh North Texas summer months donations to local non-profits dwindle will the homeless population remains constant or increases.
“If the weather is nice outside the numbers tend to be lower, since many people don’t mind staying outside,” Austin Street Center Director of Marketing John Bruce explained.
When the North Texas heat becomes not only physically challenging, but dangerous, shelters have to consider the health risks their clients face.
‘We will even raise the cap on the number of individuals we allow inside, just to make sure that everyone has shelter and not in danger with extreme weather,” Bruce said.
During the Christmas in July event Austin Street Center is hoping to not only raise funds for their general operating fund but also help their homeless clients with a particular need.
“Most clients will come in with one, two or three trash bags and they’re ripped, they’re duct taped together and that’s what they’re carrying their worldly possessions in,” Bruce said.
So, Austin Street Center is encouraging the donation of wheeled luggage and duffel bags.
Since the shelter only offers overnight accommodations, clients who are physically able must “check out” every morning.
Austin Street currently has a sheltered area where clients can leave their belongings, if they wish. Bruce says the problem comes when they return to get their garbage bag.
“It’s hard to tell which trash bag is theirs. So to help we are building a new baggage storage system.”
Set to be complete in the next two weeks, the new ‘baggage claim’ area will be enclosed and lockable, which will help with thievery. Now Austin Street is working to help their clients better collect their items with luggage.
Currently the Austin Street Shelter sees between 400 and 425 clients every evening, depending on the weather.
During the Christmas in July campaign they hope to have enough luggage donated that each client has one piece of wheeled luggage. As of Wednesday afternoon churches from across North Texas had already donated dozens of pieces of luggage.
In addition to luggage Austin Street Center is also hoping the “Christmas in July” campaign will help generate donations of:
• Gently-used clothing
• Personal hygiene products (for both men and women)
• Underwear and socks (for both men and women)
• Laundry bags
• Men’s shoes (size 10 and up)
• Men’s Big & Tall Clothing
• Women’s Plus-Size clothing
Austin Street Center is a privately funded non-profit organization that was created in 1983.
While the Christmas in July is something the Austin Street Center is proud of and promoting, Bruce wants everyone to remember, “We always accept donations, both monetary and physical!”