North Dallas Shared Ministries food pantry:  Photo by Danny Fulgencio

North Dallas Shared Ministries food pantry: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Whether you are a natural giver — one of those noble souls who prefers presenting to receiving gifts — or a more average Joe, for whom a small altruistic gesture just feels good, we’ve listed several charities that make a difference in our neighborhood. Any
of them could benefit from a tad of your time or money.

Vickery Meadow Learning Center

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Serves: Local refugees who want to learn English

It may have been easy for Preston Hollow residents to ignore the dramatically different neighborhood just across Central Expressway until recently, when the first Ebola case in the United States thrust Vickery Meadow into the national spotlight. But many neighborhood volunteers have been working in the refugee community for decades through the Vickery Meadow Learning Center. Founded in 1997 as the flagship mission of Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, the nonprofit provides English literacy classes for adults as well as early childhood education for their children. Right now, 36 different cultures are represented at VMLC.

“We have refugees who have fled life-and-death situations,” says longtime Preston Hollow resident Stephanie Haley, who has volunteered since the program began. The students are alert and eager to learn, she says. After all, their livelihood depends on it. They must quickly learn English to get a job and support their families.
Earlier this fall, when hazmat crews and media trucks surrounded the Ivy Apartments in Vickery Meadow, the students didn’t seem overly concerned, Haley says. “Some of them are just struggling to get through the day.”

There are plenty of bright spots that come with the volunteering gig. Neighborhood resident Laurie Ledbetter recently began working with Haley in the classroom. In addition to the planned coursework, they often have organic conversations among the students. “It’s fun to hear them talk about their lives,” Ledbetter says. “It is so rewarding.”

Volunteer: VMLC is accepting volunteer ESL teachers for the spring semester, beginning in early January. Volunteers teach two hours a week for 12 weeks. Morning, afternoon and night hours are available. No teaching experience or foreign language skills are necessary.

Attend: The annual spring fundraiser is March 31 at Fashion Industry Gallery, featuring a performance by the string trio Time for Three.

Give: $30 buys a set of ESL books for one adult student
$250 supplies a year’s worth of classroom material for an adult ESL class
$400 sponsors a parent to participate in VMLC programs for one year

Contact: Liz Harling  •  214.265.5057  •

Carson Leslie Foundation

Serves: Pediatric cancer patients in Dallas and medical research for less-toxic treatments

Christmas Eve carries special meaning for the Leslie family. It’s the night they learned their teenage son’s brain cancer was terminal. Now, every year the Preston Hollow residents throw a big party on the cancer floor of Children’s Medical Center, showering the patients with gifts. “Our hearts draw us there each Christmas Eve,” says Annette Leslie, whose son Carson died in January 2010 at age 17. She launched the Carson Leslie Foundation in his honor to raise money for less-toxic pediatric cancer treatments and to arrange fun outings to help improve the patients’ emotional wellbeing. During Carson’s time at Children’s, the Leslies noticed the hospital had plenty of space for small kids to gather but no place for teens, who experience cancer much differently. A large donation recently was made in Carson’s name to establish a room just for teenage cancer patients to connect with one another. The family hopes to receive naming rights to call it “Carson’s Corner.”

Volunteer: A variety of positions are available, both short- and long-term, in areas such as finance, fundraising, social media and event planning. The Shady Lady auxiliary group also accepts new members to help advance the foundation’s mission.

Attend: The fifth annual Sunny Place Shindig is 6:30-11:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at Fashion Industry Gallery. The fundraiser features a Texas Hold ’em tournament, a chicken drop, a silent auction and other activities. Sponsorship levels begin at $500.

Give: $25 buys a gift for a teen to enjoy on the most difficult days of treatment.
$100 or more provides an outing to a local sporting event (Dallas Cowboys, Rangers or Mavericks game) complete with a limousine ride, food and drinks.
Donate a new, unwrapped toy for patients to enjoy on Christmas Eve at Children’s Medical Center. Drop-off locations include Dougherty’s Pharmacy at 5959 Royal.

Contact: Annette Leslie
972.713.4030  •

Project Linus

Serves: Critically ill and traumatized children

The local Project Linus chapter unites quilters under one cause — comforting children during difficult times. Volunteers gather regularly to make blankets for patients at hospitals including Medical City Children’s and Children’s Medical Center as well as for kids of fallen soldiers. Project Linus focuses on homemade blankets rather than store-bought because they carry extra-special meaning for the recipients. Since it began in 2004, the Dallas chapter has donated more than 33,000 blankets.

Volunteer: Quilters meet on the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Midway Hill Christian Church, 11001 Midway. Bring your own supplies, plus a dish for a pot-luck lunch. If you prefer to make blankets at home, the nearest drop-off location is at Golden D’or Fabric Outlet, 10795 Harry Hines just south of Walnut Hill.

Donate: The group relies 100 percent on donations for supplies such as sewing kits to help new members get started.


Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas


Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas: Photos by Danny Fulgencio

Serves: Jewish community members in need, allocating funds to 48 local, regional and national organizations

The Preston Hollow-based nonprofit supports about 70,000 people in the local Jewish community. It began more than 100 years ago as a lone charity organization and has become the glue for scores of other related Dallas agencies (some of which are included in this list), such as the Jewish Community Center, Akiba and Yavneh Academies, the Legacy at Preston Hollow and the Dallas Holocaust Museum. The mission also extends abroad to Israel. It has provided aid during conflicts and rescue operations since the 1960s and helped Jews resettle in Israel, the United States and Dallas.

Volunteer: Help set up for senior lunches 9:30-11 a.m. every Thursday at the JCC, or prepare care packages to send to Israeli combat soldiers. Visit the website for a list of all the local organizations the Jewish Federation supports.

Attend: The annual pledge drive known as Giving Sunday is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Jewish Community Center. Help out by joining the one-day phone-a-thon, which provides funds for food, medical care and community programming.

Give: $100 buys 67 meals for the Jewish Family Service food pantry
$170 provides one month of hot kosher lunches for a senior at the Jewish Community Center

Contact: 214.369.3313 •

Texas Archery Academy & Texas Archery Club

Texas Archery Academy : Photos by Danny Fulgencio

Texas Archery Academy : Photos by Danny Fulgencio

Serves: Through its new indoor facility, residents of all ages and levels who want convenient, safe and affordable access to archery and its beneficial byproducts
Formed as a nonprofit in 2011, the Texas Archery Academy (TXAA) provides instruction, hosts tournaments, and operates indoor training facilities around the state — the newest such facility is a 13,000-square-foot space near Central and Walnut Hill. The TXAA is a sub-organization of the Texas Archery Club (TAC), which was started in the 1960s as a benefit for Texas Instruments employees. Archery provides physical and mental recreation that can be enjoyed by almost anyone, even many with disabilities that would prevent participation in other sports. However, notes archery club director Clint Montgomery, the sport has not historically been accessible to the average person. The TXAA intends to increase outreach and accessibility for all who are drawn to the activity. And who wouldn’t be, Montgomery queries rhetorically: “I’ve never met anybody who didn’t want to shoot a bow.”

Give: Annual membership is $120. Student memberships are $60, and family discounts are available. Members are asked to contribute one hour of volunteer service per calendar year.
Donate to the On Target fund, which helps introduce archery to a wider audience, via PayPal or credit card on the TXAA website.

Contact: Clint Montgomery, director
9500 N. Central
214.799.0940 •

North Dallas Shared Ministries


North Dallas Shared Ministries: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

North Dallas Shared Ministries: Photos by Danny Fulgencio

North Dallas Shared Ministries: Photos by Danny Fulgencio

Serves: The working poor and seniors on fixed incomes in the North Dallas area

North Dallas Shared Ministries is a huge multi-faith operation that has grown from a room inside a church to a 20,322-square-foot building on Merrell Road. Five local clergy saw the need for a more effective system for serving those in need, and now hundreds of volunteers from 51 different congregations all over Preston Hollow mobilize to do just that. The nonprofit provides medical care, financial aid, ESL classes, clothing and food to more than 30,000 people.

Volunteer: NDSM has a variety of positions available, from clerical work to physical labor. Work in one of the clinics, teach English as a Second Language, drive a delivery van or help stock the food pantry.

Give: $15 buys five all-day bus passes to get a client to and from work for a week

$40 buys all Dallas ISD-required school supplies plus two uniforms for one child

$100 buys four pairs of new shoes

Contact: 214.358.8700 •

Foster Kids Charity

Foster Kids Charity: Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Foster Kids Charity: Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Michelle Armour: Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Michelle Armour: Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Serves: Children in the state foster care system

Since witnessing a tragic car accident in June 2008 that claimed the lives of three foster children, Preston Hollow resident Michelle Armour has dedicated her life to supporting other children shuffled around from home to home. “When they come in and take the kids, they give them a trash bag and say, ‘You have 15 minutes to grab your stuff.’ They might grab their pajamas, some shoes, maybe a toothbrush and a toy. We come in to fill the cracks.” Armour’s nonprofit, Foster Kids Charity, collects essential items for care packages to help ease the constant transitions the children face. Since launching in 2011, the organization has received the Best Community Partner award from Child Protective Services and a private donation for a larger office. With the added exposure comes a greater need for help. “We always need more funds to provide more,” Armour says. “The demand is higher than what we can offer.”

Volunteer: Assemble care packages for foster children during a monthly meet-up at the Foster Kids Charity headquarters.

Attend: The nonprofit’s annual Gift of Love holiday party is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 20 at Grace Church in Richardson. The event provides presents and entertainment for 166 local foster children, who don’t receive gifts every year.

Give: One dollar provides a healthy snack bag for one foster child through the organization’s new Food 4 Foster program, serving 500-1,000 abused and neglected children who are in the care of Child Protective Services each month.

The ongoing wish list includes snack foods and juice boxes, size 4-6 diapers, wipes, new coats and jackets for ages 7-15, new car seats, and toiletries for teens — all of which can be dropped off at the Foster Kids Charity headquarters.

Contact: Michelle Armour
9221 LBJ Freeway, Suite 110
469.248.2786 •

Friends Of The Northaven Trail

Serves: Maintenance and beautification of our neighborhood’s hike-and-bike trail

The Friends group formed before the dirt even began turning on the Northaven Trail to help raise funds for amenities such as landscaping, benches, water fountains and pet-waste disposal stations. The group has played an important role in making sure the trail lives up to its potential as a neighborhood gathering place in an area that lacks the public green space available in other parts of town. “What we find is that trails knit communities together,” Councilman Lee Kleinman told neighbors at a meeting last year. “That’s what’s starting happen in North Dallas.” The trail runs along Northaven from Freda Stern to Preston and, with a new $2.5 million grant from the North Texas Council of Governments, will extend to Denton Drive. It eventually will connect with Central Expressway on the east, linking it to the White Rock Creek and Cottonwood trails.

Volunteer: Help out with social events and beautification efforts throughout the year.

Attend: Holiday Lights on the Trail is 5-7 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Edgemere intersection, featuring displays, refreshments, Santa and live holiday music.

Give: $100 buys one line of personal text, engraved onto a paver.

$500-$2,500 buys a paver, which comes in three different sizes.


Friends of the Dallas Public Library

Friends of the Dallas Public Library: Photo by Kim Leeson

Friends of the Dallas Public Library: Photo by Kim Leeson

Serves: All neighborhood libraries and their unbudgeted materials and programming

While the library budget still hasn’t been restored to pre-recession levels, the Friends group works to fill the gaps where it can. The group raises funds for special programs, author visits, scholarships and bookmobiles. Besides Bookmarks at NorthPark Center, which is supported exclusively by the main Friends of the Dallas Public Library, neighborhood branch groups raise funds on a smaller scale for things such as arts and craft supplies or a new stage for puppet theater shows.

Volunteer:  Help with clerical duties, event and program planning, book sales and local advocacy at neighborhood branches.

Donate: $10 buys a paperback book

$25 buys a hardcover

$50 provides a TV series DVD or audiobook

Contact: 214.670.1458 • or call any branch library for specific neighborhood contacts

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