The Unofficial Start
Our organization had its humble beginnings when Mike Keating, Givingmas founder, was looking for a way to assist families in need and help them celebrate a better Christmas. With the help of several close friends and colleagues, the first unofficial Givingmas fundraising event was held, raising almost $600 — granting an individual family much-needed Christmas wishes.
The idea spread and La Shonda Bush became a founding Ambassador, bringing in many supporters. Together, we launched our "public fundraiser," raising over $2,000 with the guiding principle of focusing on one family at a time. With more resources, the program expanded beyond providing Christmas gifts. It focused on helping families over extended periods through opportunities to improve their lives sustainably. Our 2016 family received car tire service packages, grocery store memberships, bill payments, and more.
Growing in the Community
Givingmas becomes the official name of the annual event in reference to the fact that we will impact beyond the Christmas season… We will give MORE (mas in Spanish). Our program's tagline came to be "Changing Lives One Family at a Time." This year the program doubled its contributions and rolled out its family nomination process with the support of the nonprofit organization "Family Gateway," a family-only homeless shelter. We proudly gave a "hand up" with new beds, career education tuition, birthday celebrations, and necessity gift cards to our 2017 family of 4 who survived domestic violence.
Over the years, the one thing that's always stayed the same is we believe in giving a hand up, not handouts. We are on a mission to Change Lives…One Family at a Time, and it starts with helping those in need take the necessary steps to self-sufficiency.
Several firsts took place in 2018, including live entertainment at our annual fundraising event and a civil nonprofit (VFW) nomination. A record-breaking $10k in donations enabled us to provide the tools and teachings necessary to help our nominated family access the resources needed to ensure that they provide for themselves, including a 2009 Lexus, legal support, bill payments, and secure employment.
Givingmas, Inc. is Born.
Givingmas was granted the official approval of becoming a 501(c)3 independent nonprofit in Texas with the help of now Secretary John Craft and Treasurer Mark McGruder. We expanded our reach, selected two families, and introduced a new program, "Days of Givingmas," setting a record of $25,000 raised. 2019 was the first year we received out-of-state donations and were recognized by other nonprofits, such as The DUDA Foundation. Success highlights include helping our nominees clear up many arrest warrants, gain their GED, obtain a reliable vehicle to get to and from their new full-time job with benefits, and more.
Facing the Pandemic
As Givingmas headed into the new year, we were inspired by a 5th straight record-breaking fundraiser. We picked our 1st self-nominated family. Our single mom of two cleared up debt and warrants, improved her credit score, received rent assistance, and obtained a driver's license with gas cards to get her to and from her first year in university for a degree in criminal justice.
As the global pandemic took hold in March, we focused on identifying families impacted by the pandemic, giving birth to the Givingmas Groceries program. Our donors raised 10k. Albertsons/Tom Thumb and their "Nourishing Neighbors" program matched our donations 150%. With these funds, Givingmas Groceries provided $100 gift cards to over 100 laid-off workers and their families for four months.
Onward and Upward
In 2021, Givingmas Groceries continued working with the North Texas Food Bank to provide a helping hand to families. We involved 3 families, with one bowing out to allow for another family in need. The "Brady" family was able to obtain reliable transportation, and the mom received her GED. They also opened their first checking and savings accounts and received credit education and repair resulting in an 80 point credit increase.
We cleared warrants and resolved claims in 3 states and enabled "Mom's the Boss" to return to school and pursue her criminal justice degree.
We enrolled the kids in extracurricular activities, assisted with resume and career development, and provided over $3,500.00 in vehicle repairs and maintenance.
We raised over $4,400.00 through Facebook birthday fundraisers, and The Loon sponsored it's 1st annual golf tournament with proceeds benefitting Givingmas.
We were also recognized by corporate sponsors: Toyota International, Albertsons, The Duda Foundation, Cowboy Toyota, 100 Men of Dallas, Legapalooza, St. Pius and others.
In the first few months of 2022, we have helped our "Dad's the Cook" family avoid eviction, connected him with potential employers that resulted in new FT employment and provided over $1500.00 in auto repair and services.
We have provided credit education which has resulted in a 40 point increase in credit score and encouraged our single father to challenge a former employer's HR to reopen a termination action which resulted in a reversal in decision of not eligible for rehire to a decision of eligible for rehire. Dad is now back working PT for that previous employer.
Currently we are assisting in replacing his stolen vehicle and continuously working with new partners for nominations.
We adopted a section of White Rock Lake on 01.08.22. Our probation period ended on 3.19.22. The Love of the Lake org, will have a sign posted on our location recognizing Givingmas as stewards of the lake. We meet the second Saturday of every month at the intersection of Emerald Isle and Winfrey point at 9:30am for 1 hour. Please join us.