Amidst all the gift-giving and champagne toasts of the holidays, it’s hard not to be thankful for all that we have: family, friends and a wonderful community to call home. But not everyone in Oak Cliff enjoys the comfort and security many of us do; so, this holiday season, CliffDweller encourages everyone to get out there and give back.

And we’ll make it easy for you. Check out the following very worthy causes, recommended by neighbors; pick one and get giving. These are certainly not the only good-cause games in the neighborhood, so if you know of others, get involved with them. And share your charity-find with your family and friends.

We hope to catch you in the act of giving during this holiday season. And look for us out there as well.

The Salvation Army
1617 W Jefferson Blvd
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 941-5911

The standard-bearer of holiday giving, the Salvation Army is located right in our midst on Jefferson Avenue. Always welcoming donations of food and clothing as well as funds, this organization has been serving communities all over the world for more than a century.

Contributions are accepted online, but call for other specific donation requests. And don’t forget to throw a little green in the red bucket this year.

The North Texas Food Bank
4306 Shilling Way
Dallas, TX 75237-1021

A constant help to our community since 1982, the North Texas Food Bank is known for both a stocked pantry as well as a good use of their charitable dollars. They keep overhead low so that the majority of charitable donations go directly to helping people who need it.

“Monetary donations provide the greatest benefit to the mission of the Food Bank,” according to their website, “For every $1 donation the Food Bank can provide six meals and $11 worth of distributed food.”

CliffDwellers can donate in a variety of ways. First, financial donations can be made by mail, phone or even online. Food donations may be dropped off at a variety of Oak Cliff locations, including Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army, both on West Jefferson Avenue. If you collect more than 250 pounds of food, a driver will pick up at your location. Visit the Food Bank online for a complete list of drop-off locations and suggestions about the best foods to donate.

Dallas Police Department Bishop Arts Storefront
408 N. Bishop Ave.
Dallas, TX 75208

Officer Eric Conde has served the Oak Cliff community for 18 years. As Community Outreach Representative, he’s gotten to know our neighborhood and its residents very well over the years. Among Conde’s many responsibilities is helping provide a safe and pleasant holiday to local families in need. Each holiday season, the Police Department Storefront, located in the heart of the Bishop Arts District, looks for individuals, families or corporations to care for neighbors in need.

The Adopt-a-Family program allows any interested neighbors to fulfill a family’s wish list. Just call the Storefront or stop by to view the list of eligible families. Lists include items such as food, clothing, holiday decorations as well as a few gifts; adopt-a-family sponsors work with the Police Department to deliver the holiday packages.

And procrastinators, rejoice! as last-minute donations are always welcome. “We officers end up taking care of a few unplanned emergencies each year,” Conde says. Storefront hours vary as Conde spends much of his time in the community, so call to make an appointment.

Dallas Animal Shelter
525 Shelter Place
Dallas, TX 75201

Between its two locations, one in Oak Cliff and the other in Pleasant Grove, the City of Dallas Animal Services cares for about 35,000 pets each year. With two in-house veterinarians as well other staff and volunteers, the shelters place as heavy an emphasis on pet-owner education as they do on pet care. Interim Division Manager, Paul Curington, says, “Our goal is to give the best care possible to every animal that comes into our hands.”

The shelter welcomes many kinds of support from the community. First, volunteers participate in animal walking, feeding and grooming as well as help facilitate community adoption programs. Interested individuals may stop by the shelter for an application form. Second, pet care items such as blankets, towels, bedding and chew toys may be donated directly to the shelter. And finally, financial donations are greatly appreciated, and may be mailed or dropped off in person. Curington points out, “Your money isn’t going to fix city pot holes. . . there’s a specific fund set up just for animal services.”

Oak Cliff Churches for Emergency Aid
6000 S. Hampton Road, Dallas, TX 75232
Housed in Oak

Cliff Presbyterian Church, the OCCEA maintains a food bank available year-round to residents of Oak Cliff. Supported by a network of area churches, financial support and appropriate service referrals are also part of the OCCEA’s mission to help neighbors in need. Oak Cliff Presbyterian holds food collections on the first Sunday of each month, but food and financial donations are welcome at any time.

Christmas Meal Deliveries with Cliff Temple Baptist Church
125 Sunset Ave.
Dallas, TX 75208

Don’t want to just mail a check? Then volunteer to bring some true Christmas cheer to elderly and disabled neighbors in Oak Cliff by delivering a meal on Christmas day.

Oak Cliff resident and Cliff Temple volunteer Kristi Coleman really enjoys this hands-on opportunity. “Meals on Wheels does not give out meals on Christmas morning,” Coleman explains, “so Cliff Temple fills in for them by preparing and delivering delicious lunches for hundreds of neighborhood folks. For many of the recipients, this will be the only visitors they have all day.”

Cliff Temple has been delivering holiday meals for 20 years. To volunteer, contact Mary Rutledge at

The Presbyterian Housing Program
4611 South Marsalis Ave.
Dallas, TX 75216

With the goal of building and refurbishing low-income homes and supporting homeowners, the Presbyterian Housing Program began in 1991 and has served more than 65 families and individuals. The Program is currently focusing its efforts on Hortense Avenue in South Oak Cliff.

Board President, architect and Beckley Club Estates resident William Baker has been involved with the Housing Program for six years. “It is very rewarding making a profound difference in people’s lives and in a neighborhood block by block,” Baker says, and “our target area has traditionally been ‘off the radar’ of other social service providers.”

Baker says there are several ways CliffD
wellers can help. “Honestly our greatest need right now is dollars,” he explains, “But we are always looking for lots for future new homes, [and] we also can use donations of certain construction materials such as roofing, plywood, flooring, kitchen cabinets and new appliances.”

Mail financial donations to the Program’s address or visit them online for more information.

Genesis Women’s Outreach and Shelter
4411 Lemmon Ave.; Suite 201
Dallas, TX 75219

The Genesis Women’s Shelter has been providing a safe-haven for battered women and their children for 21 years. With the Outreach Center located at Lemmon and the Tollway, Genesis serves the entire Dallas Metroplex.

Director of Outreach, Laura Gaither, says there are many ways to contribute to the shelter over the holidays. “Since most kids that come to us arrive with only the shirts on their backs,” she explains, “a Christmas gift is a fantastic way to spread some holiday cheer.” Christmas ornaments, cookies or even basic toiletries are appreciated; all donations should be unwrapped.

Groups can also contribute to the Women’s Shelter by holding a donation drive or by adopting a family. Call or visit for more information or to make a financial donation online. Gifts may be dropped off by December 20 to Inwood Village, 5550 W. Lovers Lane, Suite 166.

Calumet Community Center
321A Calumet Ave.  
Dallas, TX 75211

The Calumet Community Center provides programs and support services to people of all ages in West Oak Cliff. Director Juanita Miramontes describes offerings for youth and seniors, from after-school and summer programs to various recreational activities. Calumet is also preparing to offer GED and ESL classes to the community.

“We are a Community Center for everyone,” Miramontes says, and it’s needs are great. Specific items on the Center’s wish list include a digital camera, a copier, and, most crucially, a mini-van or bus to help pick up students from five area schools. “Our bus is on its last legs, and we are looking for either a donation or a grant to fill this need.”

Calumet will also distribute toys to over 750 area children on December 20. Donations of unwrapped toys for children ages 0-14 years will be accepted until December 18. Call for more information, or visit online to make a financial donation.

219 Sunset Ave., Suite #116-A
Dallas, TX  75208

With three branches serving Oak Cliff, South Dallas and Oak Lawn, AIDS Arms has been supporting HIV+ and AIDS patients since 1986. By providing services often unavailable anywhere else, AIDS Arms patients receive coordinated medical care, case management and medication assistance. Since opening, the organization has gained vast community support, opened the well-respected Peabody Medical Center in South Dallas, and grown to include a staff of 65.

Women’s Services Liason Christie Maupin explains, “More than 75 percent of our clients are African American and Hispanic, while 90 percent live under the poverty line. . . We serve nearly 400 impacted children living with HIV+ parents or other family members.”

AIDS Arms has many needs over the holidays, including new presents to distribute to clients and their children. Unwrapped gifts might include toys, clothes, bedding, CDs or even food items. Donations are requested by December 14 and may be dropped off at the Sunset Avenue location. Later offerings are certainly welcome — just contact the center to inquire about up-to-date needs. And, financial contributions are always appreciated.

Personal Care Items Drive for the Well
125 Sunset Ave.
Dallas, TX  75208

Got an extra toothbrush or two? How about some shampoo, or other toiletry? Bring new items to be distributed by the Well, an Oak Cliff ministry for those suffering from mental illness. Each year, the Well throws a Christmas party for its members, offering dinner as well as gifts to over a 100 people.

Pastor Joel Pulis says, “For the community members of the Well, living on a tight fixed income is tough. After room and board, very little of their meager monthly budgets are left for other items.” Needed donations include soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other personal care items; gifts such as wallets, watches or Walmart gift cards are also appreciated. Drop off donations to Starfish restaurant at Davis and Windomere, or to Cliff Temple Baptist on Sunset Avenue, by December 15.

Norma’s Café Toy and Coat Drive
1123 West Davis
Dallas, TX 75208

Belly up to the front counter at Oak Cliff favorite Norma’s Cafe just about any time of year and you’ll get a chance to donate to one local cause or another as you finish polishing off a slice of one of their mile-high pies.

Last year, the diner and its patrons donated more than 1,000 toys and nearly as much money, all of which is guaranteed each year to go to neighborhood children and families. Lots of people have toy drives, and they’re all great causes, says General Manager Pam Spell. “At Norma’s, we’re a family, and our family wanted to make sure our donations help our own. We work through Oak Cliff churches and ministries to distribute the toys and money people bring in because they know the folks who really are in need.” Your chances to give don’t stop after the big guy drops through the chimney, either. Community-minded Spell will launch the restaurant’s traditional coat drive the day after Christmas. Last year, she estimates that regular patrons brought in more than 4 tons of jackets. “Even here in Texas, it gets mighty cold by mid-January,” she says. “People forget about giving as the holidays wind to a close, but there’s always somebody who needs a coat or some food.”

Norma’s Café will be collecting toy donations through the close of business on December 23. They’ll collect new or good used coats from December 26 through mid-January. Norma’s collects donations for the North Texas Food Bank year-round.

Kessler Park UMC Candy Cane Tree
1215 Turner Avenue
Dallas, TX 75208
214-942-0098 x22

Kessler Park is offering CliffDwellers another chance to spread holiday joy to local families. At the church, a Christmas tree is decorated with candy canes labeled with individual holiday wish lists. Come by the church to get some gift ideas, then go out and shop! Purchased gifts can then be returned to the church for distribution. “Donations may be made in one of two ways,” says Office Manager Ken Surley. “First, you may stop by the church and get a candy cane from the tree. This will have the indication of the age of the person and the requested gift. Please return the wrapped gift with the candy cane nametag to the church and place under
the tree. Second, you may make a financial donation for the purchase of additional gifts or food for the families.” Donation deadline is Friday, December 15. Checks may be made payable to KPUMC with a memo of “Candy Cane Tree.”

For more information, contact Allison Garza, 214.942.4233,