Nanette Light – Feb. 3 – This year’s Dallas Morning News Charities campaign raised more than $1.2 million from nearly 1,600 donors to aid North Texans who are hungry, homeless and unemployed.

The annual drive, which began in November at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas and ended Tuesday, marked more than three decades of raising money for local charities. This year’s campaign benefited 20 nonprofits that feed the hungry; house homeless families, children and runaway teenagers; and help others pay the bills.

“This is a reflection of the big hearts of our readers and donors in North Texas,” said Camille Grimes,  executive director of The Dallas Morning News Charities.

The campaign fell short of its $1.5 million goal, but Jim Moroney, publisher and CEO of The Dallas Morning News, said “every dollar raised is good” and goals inspire more people to give. He noted that this year’s drive surpassed last year’s campaign, which raised $1.1 million from more than 1,600 donors.

The record for contributions was in 2006-07, when more than $1.8 million was donated.

“There is always more need in our community than there are resources to meet those needs,” Moroney said Friday. “If we can raise more money this year than we did the preceding year, we’re going to be able to help more people in need, and that’s always our goal.”

The Dallas Morning News covers all administrative costs of running the Charities, in partnership with the Communities Foundation of Texas, so that 100 percent of all donations benefit the 20 charities.

Richard Jones, chairman of the board for The Dallas Morning News Charities, already is looking ahead to next year’s drive, saying there needs to be more communication with larger donors and foundations about the campaign’s mission.

“We have a lot of new people here who want to do good work, but they’re not quite sure where to put their money,”Jones said. “Dallas Morning News is a really great place to make sure their dollar goes exactly to the nonprofit that is going to be helping these folks.”

Finding success

Crossroads Community Services will use the money to give enough groceries for low-income people to prepare more than 370,000 meals, said the Rev. Jay Cole, executive director of the nonprofit, which provides food, clothing and life-skills education to people in need.

“It’s more than last year, and I’m thrilled,” Cole said of money raised through the campaign. “That’s success.”

Last year, the downtown Dallas nonprofit served nearly 13,000 people and passed out more than 2 million pounds of groceries, which are sorted to families based on the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Cole said more than 80 percent of people who visit the organization’s in-house food pantry don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  But about three-quarters of its clients are obese or on the verge of obesity.

Beyond raising dollars, Ellen Magnis, executive director of Family Gateway, said the The Dallas Morning News Charities’ fundraising drive increases community awareness for her nonprofit and its efforts to house homeless families and children. Family Gateway also provides life-skills training and counseling.

The organization houses homeless families in 30 rooms at its facility on South St. Paul Street and supports nearly 200 others living in apartments. But staff members receive 600 calls a month for help.

Magnis said the city needs more affordable-housing options.

“One rent increase can be the difference between staying in a home and being homeless,” she said.

In the next few years, the nonprofit will study how to grow its housing capacity and deter homelessness.

“We have a lot to do,” she said.

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