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With Christmas only four days away, there's no better time to give back to the Austin community.
In a tough year for many, you can help others in the community through donations and volunteering. You might just make someone's holiday season that much better.
Here are some ways you can give back to the community.
Travis County Brown Santa
The Travis County Brown Santa is a community service program created by the Travis County Sheriff's Office seeking to help underprivileged children and their families. This year, Brown Santa is looking to continue it's tradition of donating goods with the help of volunteers who help make the magic happen. The program is currently collecting new, unwrapped toys, unopened non-perishable food and money to help those in need.
More information on ways to help the Travis County Brown Santa can be found here.
Austin Jingle Bell 5K
Austin Jingle Bells 5K is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year by going virtual. The program is run by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which focuses on bringing awareness to drunk driving and giving aid to victims. Since the event is virtual, you can participate wherever you'd like until Jan. 6 or donate online.
More information on ways to help the Austin Jingle Bell 5K can be found here.
The Austin Police Operation Blue Santa
Blue Santa 2020 is kicking off by providing toys and food for families in need during the holiday season. The Austin Police Operation Blue Santa is a non-profit volunteer organization serving Austin for 48 years. Blue Santa is trying to reach $500,000 this year to provide families in need gift cards for toys and food. Due to the pandemic, the program is not seeking volunteers this year but encouraging a monetary donation online
More information on ways to help the Austin Police Operation Blue Santa can be found here.
Austin Habitat for Humanity
Austin Habitat for Humanity accepts donations year round to help build a home for local families. Every year, Realty Austin volunteers with the organization to help raise money and build a home before the holiday season arrives. This year, they met their goal with help from the local community. With Christmas around the corner, consider donating your extra furniture in your home to make someone's holiday a little merrier.
More information on ways to help Austin Habitat for Humanity can be found here.
Central Texas Food Bank
With the pandemic affecting so many families this year, the Central Texas Food Bank is asking for extra help to help those who have been impacted by the pandemic. The organization is offering many ways people can give back and help provide for families in need, such as making an online donation and donating to local participanting stores such as Target, Sprouts, Wheatsville Co-op and more. Central Texas Food Bank is accepting donations and business proceeds until Dec. 31.
More information on ways to help the Central Texas Food Bank can be found here.
Meals on Wheels Central Texas
Meals on Wheels Central Texas provides meals, safety checks and human connection to homebound older adults. The organization focuses on ensuring that seniors stay independent and connected to their community while providing meals and other life-sustaining services. Meals on Wheels provides year-round services but encourages extra donations during the holiday season.
More information on ways to help Meals on Wheels Central Texas can be found here.
Toys for Tots
The Toys for Tots Foundation assists the U.S. Marine Corps in providing new toys for underprivileged children during the holidays. With help and donations for local community members, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program supported over 20,000 children in Austin in 2019. Due to the pandemic, the program is looking to raise even more toys to distribute than last year with an online fundraiser.
More information on ways to help Toys for Tots can be found here.
Austin Angels is a non-profit organization aiding foster families with international giving, relationship building and mentoring. The program is continuing to help children and youth in foster care with donations. Due to COVID-19, Austin Angels is looking to support thousands of children to have access to the resources they need to build a better community. You can make a one time, monthly, quarterly or annual donation to Austin Angels.
More information on ways to help Austin Angels can be found here.
This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach three days until Christmas.
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Summertime sure does fly by, doesn't it? It's time to jam-pack as many summer activities as you can while there is still about a month left before school starts up again and the grind gets going. Luckily, Austin is full of places to visit that will fill your season full of memories.
To get you started, check out some of these seasonably-fit museums, galleries and snacks.
Beyond Van Gogh, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.
Like the name suggests, Beyond Van Gogh Austin takes visitors deeper into the Dutch painter's work by surrounding them in his post-impressionist world. Aptly taking place at the Starry Night Pavilion at the Circuit of the Americas, this immersive exhibit allows Vincent Van Gogh's masterpieces to be "freed from frames" as they are projected onto the walls and floors for guests to explore. Van Gogh's thoughts, dreams and words are set to a symphonic score to drive the narrative as you walk through the rooms, giving visitors insight into the tortured artist's swirly world. Adult tickets start at $46.99, children at $28.99 and it offers student and military discounts while the museum runs through Sept. 5.
Museum of Ice Cream, 11506 Century Oaks Terrace
The runaway hit from New York City has made its way to Austin, complete with a rainbow sprinkle pool, banana forest and bright-pink-everything exterior. The Museum of Ice Cream is a favorite of major celebrities—Beyoncé, Ryan Reynolds and the Kardashian Krew have all been spotted at the New York Location. The whimsical museum promises an undisclosed "Texas twist" at its new Austin location, which also has an on-brand café that serves Museum of Ice Cream original treats. You didn't think you'd leave without ice cream, did you? Tickets run $39 per person.
The Selfie Galleries, 3220 Amy Donovan Plaza
Looking for a place to get that perfect summer selfie? Look no further, because the newly-opened Selfie Galleries has 20 wildly decorated different rooms to roam through, capturing an unforgettable photo of yourself and your faves in each one. The backdrops were made so you can flex your creative muscle and make some documented memories at the same time. The gallery also hosts mixers for all age groups so you can meet local Austinites in a safe setting. Tickets start at $20 for an hour, $40 for two, depending on how many people you bring along.
Wonderspaces, 1205 Sheldon Cove
The self-proclaimed "new home for extraordinary art," Wonderspaces is an interactive art gallery like you've never experienced before. With rotating exhibits that you can touch, Instagram and ogle, the artwork is designed for everyone to create their own unique experience when visiting. Virtual reality, a house of mirrors, anonymous conversations and a dragon made of teabags are just a few of the wild installations that make this museum what it is—plus, you can enjoy some local brews at the Wonderspaces Bar. Adults can visit for $24, kids for $15 or you can get an annual pass for $99 and visit each new piece.
Milk Bar Bakery, delivery only
Maybe you want an experience without the outing. Thanks to ghost kitchens, the brainchild of Christina Tosi came all the way from The Big Apple to the Lone Star State. The well-celebrated Milk Bar Bakery is now available in Austin through third-party delivery only, meaning you can get the full line of milk bar cookies, bar pie, truffle crumb cakes and its famous layered birthday cakes through UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash and Postmates only. If you haven't had these rich cookies yet, it's time to fire up that delivery app and get to ordering!
Soak up the rest of summer while you can!
- 1 1/12 oz sweet pepper-infused Tito's Handmade Vodka
- 3 oz soda water
- 1 oz grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
The Biden administration is asking cities and states to use pandemic relief funds to pay residents $100 to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reaffirmed prohibitions on pandemic protocols in a new executive order issued on Thursday.
The order emphasizes that "the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates," according to a press release. It outlaws government entities from requiring employees to be vaccinated or individuals to provide proof of vaccination and upholds previous orders restricting government entities' ability to impose pandemic protocols.
Local public health and elected officials have asked all Austinites to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and unvaccinated individuals to avoid nonessential trips last week given the rising number of local confirmed cases and related hospitalizations in recent weeks. But it is not enforceable under Abbott's order.
The seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions in the five-county Austin metro has more than quintupled since the beginning of July and is now 47.4. The threshold for Stage 5 is 50, according to Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines.
Despite these trends, Abbott stands firm in his commitment to avoid new statewide mandates and to prohibit local government entities from issuing any of their own.
"Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19," he said in a statement. "They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses and engage in leisure activities."
Public health officials have attributed the current spike to the more contagious Delta variant and unmitigated spread among unvaccinated individuals. Abbott encouraged Texans to get vaccinated if they haven't already but affirmed that it would never be required by the state in his statement.
An increasing number of Austin-area employers—including Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health, Facebook and the Department of Veterans Affairs—have announced new vaccine requirements in recent days. Austin Mayor Steve Adler asked the city manager to enact a similar requirement on Wednesday, but the city is unable to do so due to an executive order issued by Abbott in April.
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