The Dallas Morning News Charities kicks off annual campaign with goal of raising $1.5 million for those in need

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By the end of this year, Crossroads Community Services expects to have distributed a couple million pounds of food from a second-floor food pantry in downtown Dallas, shuttling food up and down an elevator shaft.

But it plans to more than triple the amount of food it passes out next year after it moves in January into the North Texas Food Bank’s former distribution warehouse on Cockrell Hill Road in southern Dallas.

“It’s going to be a whole new ballgame,” executive director Jay Cole said.

Crossroads Community Services is one of 20 nonprofits selected to receive contributions during The Dallas Morning News Charities campaign, which raises money for the homeless, hungry and unemployed in North Texas. The drive launched Wednesday with a kickoff event at the Winspear Opera House downtown.

The campaign runs until Jan. 31 and has a goal of $1.5 million. Last year’s drive raised over $1.25 million through roughly 1,550 donors.

The annual campaign is a time to focus on something positive and inspirational during the year, said Leona Allen, a member of The News’ editorial board and chair of The Dallas Morning News Charities.

“When we start thinking about how this community comes together, a lot of the divisiveness floats away because people are working together to try to do something good for these charities,” Allen said.

Since 1986, The Dallas Morning News Charities has raised nearly $32.2 million. The News covers all administrative costs so that 100 percent of donations benefit the 20 charities.

This year’s campaign started with over $363,000 already in the coffers, which was distributed to the 20 charities in checks presented during Wednesday’s event.

Donations come from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas; the Hertich Estate Fund and MacArthur Estate Fund at the Communities Foundation of Texas; the 2018 North Texas Giving Day; The Dallas Foundation; and employees of The Dallas Morning News. A $170,000 gift from the J.L. Williams Foundation received last week was not included in the launch amount.

New to this year’s campaign is honorary chairman Tim Brown, a Dallas native and NFL Hall-of-Famer, who said it is a privilege to to serve an organization that works to make a difference for people in need.

At the event Wednesday, Brown said he was 19, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, when he realized he was blessed by having a support system his teammates didn’t have.

“Most of the guys there didn’t have a father, didn’t have a big brother, didn’t have an uncle, didn’t have a pastor that really poured into them,” Brown said. “So I said at 19 years old, if I ever get into a position to help, I want to make it happen.”

The kickoff event was a morning to celebrate organizations working to help the hungry and homeless in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said Camille Grimes, executive director of The Dallas Morning News Charities.

"I know many of you, because of the cold, inclement weather we’re having right now, you’re working longer hours to try to take care of our homeless," Grimes said at the event. "On behalf of The Dallas Morning News, I want to say thank you for being a smiling face to a person who maybe feels invisible. Thank you for walking alongside a person who needs a path away from being hungry or homeless and is now on a new journey.”

Representatives for each organization excitedly accepted checks at the event Wednesday. Bob Sweeney, executive director of the Dallas Life Foundation, picked up Grimes in a big hug and jumped up and down before taking his check.

Nicole Bursey, executive director of the Frisco Family Services Center, said donations from The Dallas Morning News Charities over the past decade have allowed the organization to serve growing needs in Frisco and its neighboring communities.

"If we didn’t have the support of The Dallas Morning News Charities, it would be difficult for us in that our needs in our communities are continuing to increase," Bursey said. "You all make it possible for us to meet those needs."

Cole said Crossroads Community Services will use funds from the campaign to pay employee salaries and buy more food as it works to more than triple its food distribution operation.

In addition to serving residents and North Texas Food Bank partner agencies in Dallas, Ellis and Navarro counties from its new Cockrell Hill location, the organization eventually plans to offer cooking and fitness classes on-site.

“We’re going to walk before we run,” Cole said. “I want to take the time to really get the pantry working … and making sure that it operates well for our clients.”

2018-19 DMN Charities recipients

Allen Community Outreach

Emergency assistance with rent, utilities, food and clothing for families in Allen, Fairview and Lucas. Financial literacy and GED classes are also offered.

Arlington Life Shelter

Emergency food and shelter, employment assistance and family counseling for homeless men, women and children in eastern Tarrant County.

Austin Street Center

Food, shelter, medical, psychiatric and psychological treatment and substance abuse counseling for the homeless.

The Bridge

Emergency and transitional shelter, supportive housing services, meals, primary and behavioral health care services, job search and educational services for the homeless.

Brother Bill’s Helping Hand

Food, clothing, medical assistance to families in West Dallas. Job training, parenting, healthy living and ESL classes also are offered.

Cedar Hill Shares

Provides food, clothing, utility assistance and school supplies to needy families in Cedar Hill.

City House

Provides homeless children and young adults with emergency shelter and transitional residential services. Operates an emergency youth shelter for children newborn to 17 and transitional living program for 18- to 21-year-olds.

Crossroads Community Services

Food, nutrition, clothing and life skills education.

Camille Grimes (from left), the Rev. Jay Cole of Crossroads Community Services and Leona Allen, chair of the DMN Charities board, attended the kickoff Wednesday, where Cole received a distribution check for his agency.

Dallas Life Foundation

Emergency short-term and long-term shelter for homeless men, women and children. Employment training, medical and dental services are also provided.

Duncanville Outreach Ministry

Food, clothing and financial assistance with rent, utilities and prescription medication for persons in Duncanville.

Family Gateway

Shelter and supportive housing programs for children and families affected by homelessness with wrap-around services including case management, adult and children’s services and an education program.

Frisco Family Services Center

Food, clothing and financial assistance with rent/mortgages, utilities and prescription drugs to families living in Frisco or Frisco ISD. Adult life skills workshops are also offered.

LifeLine Shelter for Families

Financial assistance to families who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness in Grand Prairie ISD. Life skills training is also provided.

NETWORK of Community Ministries

Food, clothing, financial assistance for rent and utilities, as well as a children’s clinic and comprehensive seniors’ net program for those 60 and older.

North Texas Food Bank — Food 4 Kids

Food 4 Kids program provides weekend food aid for elementary school children at risk of being chronically hungry.

Our Calling

A faith-based organization that serves the unsheltered homeless in Dallas by providing food, showers, clothing and resources.

Our Daily Bread

Noon-day meals, weekend snack pack program, bus passes, counseling, personal care items, limited health screening and referrals, phone answering service and mailing address for the homeless in Denton County.

Promise House

Shelter, food, clothing, counseling, educational services and transitional housing for homeless, runaway and at-risk teens.

Sharing Life Community Outreach

Food, clothing and financial assistance for rent and utilities; educational programs; and job skills training for low-income residents in southeastern Dallas County.

The Stewpot

Urgent and long-term assistance to the homeless and at-risk families; meals; ID documentation; representative payee program; dental, medical and mental health services; job assistance; and inner-city youth programs.

To donate or to learn more

To learn more about or donate to The Dallas Morning News Charities, visit dmncharities.com. Tax-deductible contributions can be mailed to The Dallas Morning News Charities, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas, TX, 75225.

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Nikki Bolton