AIM Charities distributes $80,000 in donations to nonprofits

McALLEN — Victor Maldonado recalled on yesterday a man who came to the Ozanam Center with no place else to go.

The executive director of the homeless shelter in Brownsville was reminded of the client moments after receiving a donation from one of the participating donors of AIM Charities’ 2015-16 campaign.

“An individual who at one point was very well off, and because he went through a divorce and lost his job, ended up at the shelter,” Maldonado said at the event. “We worked with him, did case management with him and even hired that individual as a security guard for the shelter.”

Two years later, Maldonado said the client, who could not be identified, returned to the job he previously lost.

“Now he’s back making good money,” Maldonado added. “He left our agency and is doing well out in the community, because he got that second chance.”

Second chances are what Maldonado said AIM Charities’ annual fundraising campaign provides.

The second annual effort raised more than $80,000 for the 21 beneficiary agencies — local nonprofit organizations that will benefit from the effort — to help those in need, such as the once-hapless individual Maldonado said Ozanam assisted.

After two years, AIM Charities has raised more than $190,000 thanks to the generosity of as many as 14 donors.

Contributors include Plains Capital Bank, Vantage Bank, Edwards Abstract Title Co., Charles Clark Chevrolet, Clark Knapp Honda, IBC Brownsville and IBC McAllen, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance and AIM Media Texas, which covered the administrative costs to ensure that 100 percent of the donations went to the nonprofits.

Also donating were Lone Star National Bank, Valley Baptist Health Systems, Wells Fargo, the South Texas College administrative staff and Nancy and Jeremy L. Halbreich, chairman and CEO of AIM Media Texas.

Present for the check presentation at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce on Thursday were representatives of the donating institutions and the beneficiary agencies.

Among them was Eloise Montemayor, grants administrator and public relations coordinator for the Salvation Army in McAllen, who expressed gratitude on behalf of her organization.

“They really do help us continue feeding the hungry and shelter the homeless,” Montemayor said. “Our mission really does go hand-in-hand with AIM’s mission, and that is to help the hungry and the homeless. So we’re able to continue providing the basic needs to people who are in need.”

Stephan Wingert, publisher of The Monitor and regional vice president for AIM Media Texas, shared similar sentiments at the presentation.

AIM Media Texas is the owner of The Monitor, the Valley Morning Star, the Brownsville Herald and the Mid-Valley Town Crier — all of which ran the campaign in December and January featuring the charitable organizations and soliciting donations on their behalf.

“The process at AIM Charities is simple,” Wingert said. “We ask for contributions — 100 percent of which goes towards helping those in need.”

Such funds, Montemayor said, go a long way.

“Any extra income we can get is a tremendous help,” she added. “With just $2 we can feed a meal to someone, so whatever we can get we can help hundreds of thousands of people with meals.”

Additional perspective came from Bill Reagan, executive director of Loaves & Fishes in Harlingen, who explained that efforts to shelter and feed the homeless amount to approximately $2,500 per day.

“That’s about $100 an hour, which can also buy about 75 meals,” Reagan said. “The shelter also costs about $600 a night to operate, and I think the best part of this particular (donation) from AIM Charities is that there’s flexibility to use it all across our organization. We serve meals every day and shelter people overnight. Those needs never go away. We’re able to plug in the AIM Charities monies to make sure that works every day.”

For American Military Support, monetary contributions go toward quality of life packages sent to members of the U.S. military from the Rio Grande Valley who are stationed overseas.

AMS President Rodolfo “Rudy“ Garcia specified that the funds will help pay for 31 packages that will soon be sent to troops in Afghanistan, as well as future shipments.

Garcia said AMS does this at least four times a year since the expenses associated with the effort exceed $600 per shipment.

“We pay $19.45 per box, which makes it very expensive for us to send out packages,” Garcia added, further noting that packages include food, personal hygiene products, some clothing, travel pillows, blankets and writing materials.

At the Aurora House, donations help pay the salaries of a small staff of dedicated employees, who executive director Kathy Scheuerman said sacrifices much to care for the terminally ill.

According to Scheuerman, the highest paid at the Weslaco home makes about $700 to $800 a week. Still, salaries make up 75 percent of the operation’s total annual costs.

“Caregivers will tell you, ‘I love working here and want to keep working here,’” Scheuerman said, adding that a steady flow of donations help maintain operations for years to come.

Wingert also praised the agencies for using the donations to “directly affect the lives of those you serve.”

Maldonado can attest to as much.

“Nowadays grants are hard to come by,” Maldonado said. “We’re able to purchase items such as towels, personal hygiene kits and products that are very much needed — simple things like socks or underwear. We see a lot of families that are in that type of need who just need a little bit of assistance to get back on track.”