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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Republic Square Park has turned into a Ford-themed fiesta for its Built to Connect pop-up experience, complete with test drives, off-roading and an inside look at the Tesla-rivaling electric vehicles that the motor vehicle company is planning to integrate over the next decade.
The outdoor driving event is free, open to the public and will stay in the park from now until Oct. 24, offering rides on Bronco Mountain, a 0-40 mph zip in the 2022 all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning and a chance to win an original Ford Bronco.
The event kicked off with a panel of speakers, including Austin Director of Transportation Rob Spillar, Ford General Manager Darren Palmer and engineering specialists discussing Ford's goals to make it so that 50% of the vehicles on the road are electric by 2030.
As an eco-conscious city, Spillar said that around 4,000 vehicles, or 22% of the Texas electric vehicle market, as well as over 15,000 plugins lie in Austin, meaning driving electric just got accessible.
"Austin, as you know, is a fast-growing modern city that is committed to protecting the long term health and viability of our communities and strategies that reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the drone quality of life here in Central Texas for all of our residents," Spillar said.
And Ford's electric vehicles are putting up some steep competition for newly-Austin-based company Tesla. The new electric Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lighting offer amenities that used to be exclusive to Musk's brand, such as the BlueCruise self-driving network. The cars also boast a 300-mile range on a single charge, assisted reverse technology and access to the biggest charging network outside of the home.
Plus, Ford's got affordability on its side. The F-150 Lightning starts at $39,974 and the Mustang Mach-E starts at $42,895, while the cheapest Tesla model, the Model 3, starts at $41,990 and averages 262 miles on a single charge.
Speaking of price, the numbers on the electric vehicles may look like a little more than you'd like to pay for your transport, but Palmer promises it will pay off. In addition to a $7,500 tax credit you can earn for your sustainability, you'll never have to buy a pricey tank of gas again.
"Personally, I have not found one customer ever, who would go back to gas so that says something," Palmer said. "I realized, at $51,000, that car outruns every childhood hero car I ever had."
Texas buyers: take note. The Ford Lightning can power your house for three to 10 days, just in case the statewide power grid fails. You can take it glamping with you, so you don't have to leave the comfort of modern life behind, and in a pinch, Palmer said he's even seen a wedding party powered by the truck.
Ford is investing $30 billion into the U.S. market to meet demand by 2025 and the new electric truck already has over 150,000 reservations.
"I think they're going to take off much faster than you expect—they're going to be extremely, extremely popular next year," Palmer said. "With the incentives that are available today, this is starting to become more mainstream and viable for more and more families. We couldn't have done that before, we didn't have the technology, or the technology at that price."
The event is ongoing through next weekend from 12-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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The Austin Police Department is searching for a man who is believed to be behind a series of robberies that is "sexual in nature and is escalating."
Three robbery cases that took place in North Austin within a 30-day period are being investigated by police, who report the victims all had similar descriptions for suspects in the case. The suspect is described as a 20-25-year-old Spanish-speaking Hispanic man, approximately 5'3, thin build, recently shaved with black hair. Police say he is known to typically wear athletic clothing and used a knife on each of the victims.
Here's a breakdown of the cases:
1. At 7:56 a.m. on Sept. 22 at the 1600 block of Rutland Drive, a woman was walking alone and returning from her child's school when a suspect walking by inappropriately touched her. The suspect then grabbed her by the arm, threatened her with a knife and demanded "her property."
2. At 8:10 a.m. on Oct. 11 at 1700 block of Colony Creek Drive, a woman was walking to her child's school when a man approached her with a knife and then demanded her personal items. The suspect then said he would return the items in return for sex.
3. At 11:03 a.m. on Oct. 13 at the 9300 block of Northgate Boulevard, a woman was with her child in the laundry room of an apartment complex when a man walked in performing a sexual act. The suspect demanded personal items from the victim, threatening to hurt the victim and take her child.
Police cautioned the public to walk without earbuds, stay alert and report suspicious activity to the police.
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