Christmastime can often feel like a season of excess. Encourage your family to take pause this month and remember those in need around the state as you plan year-end giving.
By Dwain Hebda
As you complete your gift list this year, don’t forget to include something for a worthy charity in our community. Central Arkansas abounds with worthwhile organizations making a difference in the lives of children and families. And all of them rely on donations to help fulfill their mission to serve the less fortunate. Savvy has selected six of these organizations for your consideration this year; please be generous as they work to make life better for all.
ARKANSAS DREAM CENTER
The Arkansas Dream Center lives by a simple but lofty goal: “To see every Arkansan chasing after their God-given dream!” Among the ways the organization accomplishes this mission is through community activism to tackle childhood hunger, strengthening families and providing hope and healing to people of all backgrounds. Its Restoration Home offers a safe place to women overcoming issues in their lives and puts them on a path to a fresh start. And through its after school and summer programs, ARDC invests in the next generation to help pave the way to a brighter future. For every dollar donated, 80 to 85 percent goes directly toward programming.
“We serve all populations across Arkansas, through children’s out of school programs, children’s feeding programs, youth programs, programs to support parents, programs to support women in crisis, programs to support foster kids and their families and programs to support the homeless,” said Drew Davis, executive director.
Arkansas Dream Center
1116 W. Daisy L Gatson Bates Drive
Little Rock, AR 72202
Additional locations in North Little Rock, Conway, Cabot, Heber Springs, Fort Smith, Russellville and Fayetteville
The CALL is a faith-based organization whose mission is to educate, equip and encourage the Christian community to provide a future and hope for children in foster care. Active in 47 Arkansas counties and working in concert with the Division of Children and Family Services, The CALL has recruited roughly 67 percent of current foster care families in the state. Since 2007, The CALL has impacted more than 11,000 children and youth, who have been cared for by more than 1,600 families, and found forever homes for more than 900 children.
“Your gift will provide the required training for families who want to open their hearts and homes to a child or youth in care,” said Jill Bobo, development director. “Your gift will provide support and wrap-around services for families caring for kids from hard places including clothing and supplies for the children in their care. Your gift will rewrite a child or youth’s story; you will give love, build futures and change lives.”
P.O. Box 25524
Little Rock, AR 72221
NO KID HUNGRY
A program of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, No Kid Hungry provides financial and technical assistance to schools, churches and other nonprofit Arkansas organizations supporting one of several No Kid Hungry initiatives. These include Breakfast After the Bell programs that make breakfast part of the school day and Summer Meals programs that provide nutritious meals in safe, supervised locations statewide during summer break. The group also supports Afterschool Meals programs that provide a nutritious supper to children who might otherwise go hungry, and Cooking Matters, which trains children and adults how to make the most of their grocery dollars.
“We know that when children get the nutritious food they need, and nutrition education, it has a huge impact on their academic performance, behavior and future orientation to food,” said Nancy Conley, communications director. “One hundred percent of donations to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance earmarked for the Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign go to support No Kid Hungry programs.”
Arkansas No Kid Hungry
c/o Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance
1400 W. Markham St., Ste. 304
Little Rock, AR 72201
EL ZÓCALO IMMIGRANT RESOURCE CENTER
El Zócalo mans “town square” in Spanish, and that image personifies the work the organization does to help promote a dignified life for immigrants in Arkansas as they work to find their place in the community. All donations are used for El Zócalo's programs that directly serve immigrant families in Central Arkansas as they work to overcome poverty, language and cultural barriers. Among these are programs that provide food and clothing to those living in poverty; financial literacy to help families rise out of poverty and understand U.S. financial systems; and assistance accessing health care, social services and schooling.
A 501c3 nonprofit organization, El Zócalo also provides emotional health services to help families dealing with separation from family members and the effects of being victims of violence. Finally, the organization provides education to help people overcome language barriers and learn other skills needed for life in America, from using a computer to understanding labels in the grocery store.
P.O. Box 250953
Little Rock, AR 72225
HEARTS & HOOVES
Hearts & Hooves began in June 2001, dedicated to enriching the lives of people with disabilities through partnerships with horses. The group offers therapeutic riding lessons and hippotherapy treatment that uses the multidimensional movement of the horse as part of various kinds of therapy. The group also offers programs that help humans dealing with certain types of trauma: Operation Equine for veterans and Project Endeavor for at-risk youth. En route to serving thousands of children and individuals, Hearts & Hooves has earned Premier Accredited Center status through Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH).
“We are working on finding the funds to expand our offerings for veterans and at-risk youth, as well as starting a program that fully funds classes for kids in foster care and families of those in hospice care,” said Michelle Easter, executive director. “Also on our ‘dreams board’ is to start a seniors program – Silver Saddles – which would improve health and quality of life, as well as provide social time with other seniors to improve mental function.”
Hearts & Hooves
2308 Kellogg Acres Road
Sherwood, AR 72120
RECYCLE BIKES FOR KIDS
In keeping with its mission of providing one free bike to any kid and to offer adults the opportunity to earn a bike of their own, Recycle Bikes for Kids has distributed over 14,000 bikes back into the community since its inception in 2008. The group collects bikes through individual donations, community-based bike drives and scrapyard donations, then repairs, cleans and shines the bikes for redistribution to recipients. Bikes and helmets are given away at community events, through other organizations and directly to children in the community.
In addition, Recycle Bikes for Kids gives individuals 16 years and older the chance to obtain a bike through the organization’s Earn a Bike Program. That initiative requires the individual to volunteer a set number of hours before choosing a bike to fix for themselves. To date, the Recycle Bikes for Kids program has refurbished and given away more than 14,000 bikes and counting.
Recycle Bikes for Kids
717 E. 10th St.
North Little Rock, AR 72114