Charities to Give to This Holiday… Part 1

Dig into your pockets. What were you going to do with that nickel? Honestly? Throw it in a cash bowl? Take up an extra 30 seconds at the register to find exact change? Sometimes I find myself feeling the need to give more to people who might be down on their luck. What better way to do so than to donate and what better time than the holidays!? Here are a couple of local charities/organizations that you might consider in your quest of finding a charity/organization to donate to, check back Monday for a couple more charity’s’ to consider in Part 2 of our charity series:

Hillcrest: Family Services

Interview with John Belini – Director of Residential Education

Can you inform me what kind of programs you are involved with at Hillcrest?
I am involved with the adolescence residential education programs. There are five programs for 64 youth, the children range from 9-18 years-old and come for a variety of reasons. They reside at Hillcrest and go to our on-campus school. our programs are geared towards skill building and any kind of recreational and vocational training.

How long has this program been active?
Hillcrest has been around since 1896 and we have been running residential programming for more than 40 years.

How are donations used at Hillcrest?
There are multiple idea’s for how we would use the money. We could use donations for our recreational programming.  We would be to get the kids some active gaming systems like the Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution so they can have a way to stay active and fit. We think that these kind of activities would build social skills such as how to sign up for an event, how to participate and how to be socially appropriate. Another idea would be using the donation money to buy recreational equipment; soccer balls, nets, tether balls… anything that gets them out and about.

What’s new at Hillcrest?
We are in the process of building a spiritual life center which includes a recreational component in the basement. We are about halfway through for our fund-raising campaign and hopefully breaking ground next year.

The biggest thing Hillcrest is doing, that I don’t think people know very well, is that we are in accordance with The America’s Promise Alliance that Colin Powell and his Wife put together in 1997. It consists of 5 promises: caring adults, safe places, healthy starts, effective education and opportunity to help others. Hill-Crest took that on as their mission three years ago but wanted to add a sixth which is – spiritual connection. So with these donations we are adding to the healthy starts, safe place and caring adults section of that promise.

Any plans for the Holiday’s at Hillcrest?
We raised money to buy Christmas presents for the kids. 40-50% of our kids don’t go home for the holidays so we celebrate at Hillcrest and take them out to eat (they usually like Bishops because it’s all-you-can-eat). Then we hang out for a while doing plenty of activities. Anything that makes them a little happier is what we want.

The Multicultural Family Center (MFC)

The MFC is open to the public and offers the children, family and adults of Dubuque various activities that help with education, skill development and socializing amongst other things. Some of their programs and offerings include: Family Reading Events, Cultural & Holiday Celebrations, Language Classes, Networking Opportunities, Community Garden, Homework Help, Youth and Family Art Classes, Teen and Adult Book Club, Computer and Typing Classes, Drama and Dance for Youth, and Youth Summer Camps.

Tara Velez – Director of the MFC was nice enough to give us a tour of the building. She explained how kids come in after school to participate in various programs the MFC sets up for them. She went on to show us the computer lab where people could use the internet, type anything they needed and print it from the centers public printer. Past the kitchen she showed us the main activity room where most of the action happens such as dancing classes.

Beyond the audio/visual class room and meeting rooms I came back to the entrance, and stood there wondering: “was this REALLY the old Kepharts building!?” You can tell the care and love that went into everything in that building. Everything is very modern and clean. Although vacant at our arrival, I could imagine the children laughing and having a great time there. It was just a nice, warm feeling that I got there.

Tara explained that the multicultural Family Center takes donations of all sorts, and some of the larger monetary donations will go toward the Future Talk Program in 2011 which is their summer program. This year the children participating in the program experienced and protected nature by participating in community service and various activities in area parks and recreation areas.

They also have a computer recycling program where people give them their old computers that they don’t want anymore, they format them and get them ready for operation and give them to people who need it.

Stay tuned for more coverage of local charities/organizations you could consider donating to this year!


  1. Very nice highlight on these two organizations. Thanks for posting this!

  2. cool

  3. […] year published an overview (Click Here to see Part 1 Click Here to see Part 2) of various local charitable organizations that were helping […]

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