• November 27, 2020

Warmth for students, votes to benefit nonprofits - Odessa American: Local News

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Warmth for students, votes to benefit nonprofits

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Posted: Friday, November 20, 2020 12:12 pm

The Development Office of Ector County ISD wants to help warm students up this winter with the gift of blankets.

The office is conducting a drive now through Nov. 30 for blankets of all sizes and kinds, as long as they're new. People can drop blankets off at the Development Office or call the office at 432-456-7059 and they will arrange to pick up the donation.

"All of these blankets are going to be donated to ECISD students who are homeless and/or in foster care. We currently have about 872 students that meet that classification," said Celeste Potter, director of the development office and Education Foundation. "This is just our way as a department of giving back for the holidays. Since we can't do Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas little things like we normally do, we just decided we'd take a collection and donate to those in need."

Potter said it's going well. HEB donated 34 blankets.

"We've also heard from a few others who are going to be making a very large donation to us, as well, so probably in total what I have on hand right now is probably about 100 blankets," she added.

No particular kind of blanket is requested, but they are asking that the blankets be new because of COVID-19.

The Advancement Via Individual Determination program at Permian High School is making blankets for the cause.

"We were wondering what we could do as a department to really give back. I reached out to Scott Randolph, who's over the Community Outreach Center and asked him what the biggest needs were at the time and he sent me back a list. We just thought blankets would be something that we could easily help with, so we just moved forward with that. We're actually going to present the blankets to Scott Randolph at the Community Outreach Center on Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. His team will give them to the kids as appropriate. We are taking blankets of all sizes because we have kids from pre-k to 12th grade that we will be serving through this project," Potter said.

"I think it's something we might even expand next year ...," Potter said.

She's hoping 2021 is better than 2020.

Some of the other items Randolph told Potter were needed by homeless students and/or those in foster care were gloves, beanies and scarves for secondary students, warm blankets, sleeping bags, warm pajamas, tennis shoes, pullover jackets or hoodies, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies and COVID test kits.

She added that they might continue the effort even after COVID dies down.

"I think it's definitely something that our department would continue to do. It's something we can all do collectively with the Education Foundation and Volunteers and Partners that we can do together to give back," Potter said.

On a separate item, City Bank, is conducting a Community Rewards program which allows the public to vote for their favorite nonprofits.

The drive is being held in the Lubbock and Permian Basin regions.

"... We have done this in the Lubbock area, the South Plains area. This is our 13th year," Michelle Hougland, VP/director of marketing, said. "We feel like it's been hugely successful in the South Plains-Lubbock market. We've had several a number of nonprofits that participate. Every year we've also had winners in a variety of nonprofit areas, so we feel like it's been very successful."

Hougland said this has been a difficult year for everyone, but especially nonprofits.

"That's why we wanted to introduce it in the Permian Basin market and also in the Lubbock market because we know it's been hard on them not having the opportunity to have fundraisers like they've had in the past, or they just have had an increased workload and could use the additional money," Hougland said.

Voting ends Dec. 13.

"Then we'll tally all of the winners, make sure all the rules are followed. On Dec. 15, we'll notify each of the winners. Then we'll have a public announcement on Dec. 17 telling exactly what they've won," Hougland said.

City Bank in the Permian Basin acquired West Texas State Bank. That acquisition was finalized last November and the conversion was completed in spring 2020, she said.

"Cory Newsom, who is our president/CEO just really has a passion for giving back to nonprofits, and rather than just selecting those internally, he wanted a way for the community to say these are nonprofits that are deserving, so that's how it came about," Hougland said.

Over 13 years, Hougland said 140 nonprofits have been awarded.

"We don't have branches in every community in the South Plains, so there are some small nonprofits. We had a winner last year from Sudan. We don't have a branch there, but they're a small nonprofit and they worked really hard and their nonprofit was one of our winners, so it's really spread out," she said.

Voting takes place online and the community can vote for their favorite organization once every hour. But they can also vote in Odessa and Lubbock, for example, Potter said.

They will be giving away $60,000 in the Permian Basin alone, Potter said.

Six organizations can earn $4,000; six organizations can earn $2,000; six organizations can earn $1,500; and six organizations can earn $500.

"Then they'll have a $3,000 bonus for the top overall vote-getter from all categories," Potter said. There is a potential to earn up to $7,000.

On the morning of Nov. 16, the Education Foundation was in the top 30 for the Permian Basin

"Something like this is very helpful because we couldn't have our annual fundraiser this year, so the only income we've really had coming in are just general donations. We haven't done any formal fundraising at all, as many nonprofits haven't, so this will really ensure that our 2021 year looks just as good as 2020. We can still award grants to teachers and all the things that we do," Potter said.

One of the things it has had to discontinue is the scholarship for putting future teachers through college. After the foundation underwent a strategic planning process it was decided that its dollars needed to be focused on prekindergarten through 12th grade.

The foundation is honoring its commitment to the scholarships it has awarded, however, Potter said.

"If at some point all that is where it needs to be, we will revisit scholarships. We're going to honor the commitments we currently have out, so the students that are on our scholarship we're going to see them through. We're just not going to award any new scholarships at this time," she said.

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