Charity & Grassroots in Victoria

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Founded in 1998, Operation Warm distributes winter coats to children across America, protecting their health and safety as well as buoying their spirits. We spoke to executive director Rich Lalley about the organization?s history, mission, and accomplishments.

The Roots

After reading a newspaper story about children waiting at a bus stop on a cold February day just a mile from his home, retired businessman Dick Sanford was "outraged," Lalley said. "He couldn't understand how children in his community could be without coats. He went to a department store and bought all 58 children's coats in stock" and distributed them through a school, whose superintendent he knew from the Rotary Club. "Dick was blown away by the reaction of the kids and reaction of the parents."

Why a New Coat Means More Than Comfort

"Our motto is 'more than a coat,' and I like to say we bring happiness and warmth to children through a new winter coat," Lalley said. "When they get a brand-new winter coat all their own, it's like Christmas day. You will hear stories of a girl who wears the coat to bed for three weeks, the boy who wants to wear it into April. It's oftentimes the first new piece of clothing the children have received in their lives. They feel better about themselves, and when they feel better about themselves, children perform better in school."

"This Coat Was Made Just for You"

"One of the first coat distributions I was on was at a little afterschool program in [Chicago?s] Rogers Park. A Rotary Club near Rogers Park provides a great deal of support to this little afterschool program called Family Matters. One of the little girls looked at me and said, 'Thank you for the coat. When do I have to give it back?' And we said she could keep it. That's why all our coats have the label 'this coat was made just for you' sewn inside and kids can write their names on it."

Kid-Friendly Coats Made in the United States

Operation Warm distributes hundreds of thousands of new coats around the country each year?so many that it contracts with factories to make coats specifically for it. The organization's coats are brightly colored and have extra-deep pockets and detachable hoods, and they come in sizes 3T to adult large. Although domestic manufacturing tends to be expensive, Lalley says 20% of its coats (about 60,000) are made in a union factory in the United States.

1301 East Rio Grande Street
Victoria,
TX
US

Not Alone enables active-duty soldiers, veterans, and their families to address the emotional and psychological effects of combat experience with mental-health counseling and support services. Online and in-person programs address the effects of combat and posttraumatic-stress disorder, with more than 400 professionals available to provide confidential counseling services for veterans and active military members across 22 states. An online social network connects peers, informal groups cater to significant others, and the eClinic offers immediate 24/7 assistance to service members in need. Not Alone also maintains a combat-stress assessment to determine daily stress levels and an online database of articles on PTSD and life after war.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1301 East Rio Grande Street
Victoria,
TX
US

As music education declines in schools across the country in response to shrinking budgets, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation fights to keep music in kids' lives by bolstering these programs and raising awareness about the benefits of arts education. The organization equips qualifying schools with the tools necessary to establish a sustainable instrumental-music program, such as a set of band or string instruments, a keyboard or guitar lab, or even a mariachi ensemble. Since its inception, VH1 Save The Music has provided new musical instruments to more than 1,900 public schools in more than 192 school districts across the country, improving academic performance, community pride, and self-esteem for 2.3 million kids.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand to projects big and small at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1301 East Rio Grande Street
Victoria,
TX
US

For half a century, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has worked to protect the planet's natural environment and promote eco-friendly living. WWF has set a goal to conserve 15 of the world's most ecologically-important regions by the year 2020. The organization aims to achieve these goals in part by focusing its work on priority places?such as the Amazon, Coral Triangle, and Himalayas?and species?such as tigers, rhinos, and marine turtles. Its projects are rooted in science and extensive research, and five million WWF members around the world help enact them for the benefit of both humanity and the planet.


*No donation is necessary to enter or win, and a donation will not increase your chances of winning. To enter without donation, you must handwrite on a 3x5 card labeled "Project Runway Sweepstakes Entry," your full name, complete address, home and daytime telephone number (including area code), e-mail address and date of birth (all of which must be legible) and mail it with proper postage to: ?Project Runway Sweepstakes Entry,? Groupon, Inc., 600 West Chicago Avenue, Ste. 400, Chicago, IL 60654. See Official Rules for additional requirements. Odds of winning depend on the total number of entries received. Void where prohibited by law. Sweepstakes only open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. or D.C., 18+. Entry period ends: 11:59 p.m. EST on 8/5/2014. ARV of prize: $4,644.23. Sponsor: Groupon, Inc., 600 West Chicago Avenue, Ste. 400, Chicago, IL 60654.

1301 East Rio Grande Street
Victoria,
TX
US

Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc. exists to directly improve the health and well-being of children. Every night, more than 12,000 families stay close to their hospitalized children in more than 336 Ronald McDonald Houses and 197 Family Rooms around the world. These locations include comfortable beds, kitchens, showers, and laundry facilities?everything families need while they focus on helping their children heal.

In addition to serving families receiving care at 78% of the world's top pediatric hospitals, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc. and its network of local Chapters also provides health education and treatments for families in vulnerable communities who have difficulty accessing health, dental, and medical care. Fifty Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles around the world provide immunizations, dental care, check-ups, and referrals to ongoing medical support to kids from Thailand to New Orleans. Extending its reach around the world, the organization also invests in grants to nonprofits that focus on critical needs of children, and awards scholarships to rising U.S. high school seniors working toward a higher education.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand to projects big and small at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1301 E. Rio Grande Ave.
Victoria,
TX
US

In 1860, three women in Hartford Connecticut believed that the boys they saw lollygagging in the streets should have something better to do with their time. So they made sure they did. They started a club that gave the boys constructive, community-based activities that helped forge their characters. In the 150 years since, this idea has spread from a community cause to a national sensation, with that first club inspiring more than 1,140 independent organizations to form since. Today, Boys & Girls Clubs of America reach more than 4,000 communities, giving children?including the child versions of spokespeople Denzel Washington and Jennifer Lopez?positive outlets for their spare time.

The Clubs' programs touch on everything from volunteer-service days to bake sales and zoo field trips. Yet no matter what the specific activity, participating students gain a connection with and respect for their community, enhancing their communication skills and self-esteem. The organization also focuses on specific goals through tailored programs, helping build leadership skills, artistic talents, or the knowledge necessary to compete in the job market.

1301 East Rio Grande Street
Victoria,
TX
US