Category Archives: Volunteer Opportunities

Irving AMBUCS recognized as most accomplished chapter in the nation

The Irving chapter of the National American Business Clubs (AMBUCS) received multiple awards last October in recognition of its service to the community. Irving AMBUCS was honored for accomplishing more from 2014 to 2015 than any other chapter in the nation.

AMBUCS is a national charity organization with a number of independent chapters throughout the country. The organization specifically focuses on helping people with disabilities regain mobility and independence. Irving AMBUCS serves the community by providing AmTrykes (therapeutic tricycles designed to help people with disabilities) to children and adults with disabilities as well as awarding scholarships to students studying to become physical therapists. The club also performs various forms of community service.

“This is all thanks to the volunteers at AMBUCS and the community as a whole,” president of Irving AMBUCS Bruce Burns said. “Irving AMBUCS could never be as successful as it is without the support of the Irving community.”

Irving AMBUCS received a total of 14 awards (more than any other club in the nation), including the 2014-2015 Superior Chapter Award, which is given to the chapter that accomplishes the most in a given year.

The other awards they earned include the Program Giving Scholars for awarding the most scholarships, the #1 Big Heart Award for giving the most to their community, 1st place in giving AmTrykes, #1 Vet Ride for having given the most AmTrykes to veterans, #1 Big Hat Award for having brought in the most members, and a President’s Award for giving the most AmTrykes to children. Burns was also recognized for being the top recruiter in the nation. In short, Irving AMBUCS was recognized for being tops in every category.

“It’s nice for our agents to be recognized, but none of our volunteers do what they do for the awards,” chairman of Irving AMBUCS/AmTryke program, Jack Spurlock, said. “The National Association sets some goals with the other independent clubs, so we are somewhat in competition with them, but we all do what we do for our community. We’ve had numerous agents recognized for their service. The good they do in their community is what’s really important.”

“AMBUCS is one of the greatest clubs in the United States,” Burns said. “It has done more for special needs children and veterans than any other club in the nation. I’ve never been in a club that has given so much to its community. I’m giving one hundred and fifty percent to make our chapter the best in the nation, because I believe one thousand percent in what we do.”

Irving AMBUCS donates over two hundred AmTrykes each year to children and teens with disabilities. In twelve years of providing this service, Irving AMBUCS has provided more AmTrykes than any other chapter during eleven of those past years. The organization also provides more general contributions to the community. Recently, Irving AMBUCS participated in a hamburger dinner with Irving Cares.

“AMBUCS is a great thing for Irving, especially the kids,” Spurlock said. “They’re always thrilled when they get their AmTrykes. We stick with them to make sure they get the help they need until they get to the point where they don’t need help anymore.”

Mayor Van Duyne lends a hand

Mayor Beth Van Duyne lends a hand at Many Helping hands Thurs. Dec. 3 at First United Methodist Church, 211 W. Third Street.

Many Helping Hands offers Thursday night dinner, clothing and supplies to many of Irving’s homeless population.  To volunteer or donate food or items, please contact First United Methodist Church, 972-253-3531.


Source: First United Methodist Church

Volunteers remove trash from park during Texas Trash-off

Keep Irving Beautiful (KIB) in conjunction with the Great American Cleanup held its annual “Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-off” event at Trinity River Park on Saturday, April 11. Volunteers grabbed bags and trash pickers to clean up litter along the city’s Campion Trails.

“There is only so much space we can take up,” volunteer Lucretia Cornell said. “And as our population grows, a vast majority of people don’t care about cleaning up after themselves. We are just contributing trash and it keeps piling up.”

Cornell is part of the Phi Theta Kappa society at North Lake College in Irving. The group was out at Trinity River Park helping to clean up their city.

“I was raised in an environmentally conscious family so I’ve always volunteered for community clean ups. I get service learning point as well,” Cornell said.

A total of 261 volunteers – 160 adults and 101 youth – gave a combined 783 hours of service as they removed litter from creek beds, tree lines and wooded areas of the park. They also performed the important task of keeping trash out of the nearby Elm Fork of the Trinity River. When the cleaning was done, the group had collected over 2220 pounds of litter and 1020 pounds of recyclables.

“I believe that all of us should care about our environment,” Dr. Romero, a KIB board member said. “I think it’s my obligation as a citizen to help the city of Irving.

“As residents you should help your city,” she said.

But not all the volunteers were from Irving. Rosario Ray and her family are from Alvarado. They drove to Irving to support a cause they believe in.

“We have to teach our kids that you can’t just litter, because this is what the result is trash,” Ray said. “I think people [who litter] would say it was just the easiest thing to do.”

“This may look like just a day in the park here in Irving, but it is part of a much bigger picture,” KIB Board President Scott Wilson said. “Affiliates all over Texas are conducting their own Trash-Offs today, and throughout the spring, communities across the United States will be holding a variety of Great American Cleanup events. Our partnerships with Keep Texas Beautiful and the Texas Department of Transportation as well as nationally with Keep America Beautiful really connect our volunteers with others who have the same passion for improving their environment.”

Keep America Beautiful’s “Great American Cleanup,” the nation’s largest annual community improvement program, runs from March 1 through May 31. In 2014, more than 4 million volunteers in over 20,000 communities gave 7.9 million hours of service in Great American Cleanup activities like cleanups, tree plantings and other beautification initiatives, with an estimated $179 million in measurable benefits to the communities involved.

Church works with Baylor Scott & White to help fight plague of diabetes


A small Lutheran church and a medical giant have joined forces to help fight the scourge of diabetes in north Texas.

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2505 Northgate Drive, and Baylor Scott & White have created a program of screening, testing, and educating the community to help fight diabetes.

“Christ often relieved the physical suffering of people before He shared the Gospel with them as a way of showing them His love,” said the Rev. Eloy Gonzalez, pastor at Our Redeemer. “Our Diabetes Project is one way we are trying to follow that example.”

The church serves a large Hispanic population, which has a much higher risk for diabetes than the general public, Gonzalez said.

The Diabetes Project starts by conducting risk screening surveys with people the church contacts through its outreach programs, such as English as a Second Language classes, Zumba lessons and Spanish-language worship services on Sundays.

Those found to have a risk of developing diabetes are invited to free screening events for fasting glucose testing. They are also given education about healthier eating habits, exercise, and other ways to lower their risk of the disease.

In the third phase, which is beginning for the first time this month, those identified as being diabetic or pre-diabetic are provided with glucose meters and test kits at a reduced cost. They are also given continuing education on diabetes and good nutrition to help fight the condition.

“Baylor Scott & White has been a tremendous help to us by providing testing supplies, education materials, and all sorts of other support,” said Gaye Harwell, one of the parish nurses administering the program. That support has even included office furniture to use in the Diabetes Project.

“To create a healthy community you need the help of the entire community,” said Mark Grace, chief mission & ministry officer at Baylor Scott & White. “One great example of this is BSWH’s Faith in Action Initiatives that work with great organizations in our community like Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, who understands that reaching out to meet physical need is a natural outgrowth of a dynamic faith. This demonstrates what can happen when genuine healing communities collaborate to minister to the whole person.”

Baylor Scott & White is a $8.3 billion health care system created by the merger of Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare in October.

Other partners in the program include the American Diabetes Association and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The latter provided major funding for the project through a $9,300 grant awarded to the church.

“When we come together to do work for the kingdom of heaven, we can accomplish more than any of us could ever do on our own,” Gonzalez said.

For more information, visit the church website at, or call the church office at 972-255-0595.

SOURCE Our Redeemer Lutheran Church

Six local charities launch shared giving campaign

To help raise funds for a better community this holiday season and into 2014, six Irving charities have joined forces with the Irving Chamber’s Community Development Foundation to form Count Me In Irving. This online giving campaign will allow donors who live or work in Irving to make one gift that will be shared equally by the DFW Humane Society, Irving Cares, Irving Healthcare Foundation, Irving Interfaith Clinic, Irving Schools Foundation and Irving Family YMCA.

“All six of our agencies are hoping donors will make gifts, many of them their first gifts, to help our good work in Irving. We look forward to being a good steward of their support through two newsletters we will send in 2014 that explain exactly how we used their donations,” said John Drake, president of Irving Healthcare Foundation.

The charities are trying this approach through publicity, donated advertising, blog coverage and social media in order to keep costs at a minimum.

“If we tried to reach tens of thousands of Irving-area residents by direct mail, the cost of printing and postage would be tremendously high,” Drake said. “This approach is much more cost effective, which we hope donors will appreciate.

“We are so thankful for the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce’s Community Development (CD) Foundation as a partner this inaugural year. The Chamber’s CD Foundation is collecting the gifts made online…and only retaining enough to cover the credit card processing fees. That means that approximately 95 percent of each gift made online will be shared by the partnering charities for their programs, not for fundraising costs.”

The charities meet a broad range of needs in the Irving community. DFW Humane Society, for example, is a no-kill animal shelter. Funds given to Irving Family YMCA fund after-school programs that serve needy children, while gifts to Irving Cares gives food and financial assistance to low-income families. Irving Schools Foundation will use funds gathered during this drive for scholarships. Irving Interfaith Clinic provides charity medical and dental care to needy residents, while Irving Healthcare Foundation will devote all funds to an expansion of the emergency department at the city’s only nonprofit community hospital, Baylor Irving.

“We are excited to test this concept for giving and, when successful, we hope to open it to other agencies in our community in future years. We have planned and really prayed for the community’s blessing on our efforts and its agreement that this is an easy way to help so many charities with one secure, online gift,” Drake said.

Count Me In Irving donations can be made online at Information about each of the benefiting charities also can be found on the website.

SOURCE Irving Healthcare Foundation


Food banks increasingly look to local support

NTFB Speaker
Former Dallas Cowboy Defensive Tackle, Chad Hennings, advocates for the North Texas Food Bank as it tries to raise $3.5
million before the end of the year. Photo by Phil Cerroni

The rumble of forklifts and hum of industrial refrigerators saturated the air at the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB), where three dozen volunteers busily sorted and packaged thousands of cans before the food was shipped to distribution points around the Metroxplex.

Despite a bustling environment, prospects remain grim for NTFB and its partner agencies as the Feeding America affiliate enters its most critical fundraising period. Still reeling from the tens of millions of dollars worth of reductions to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that went into effect on Nov. 1, NTFB is striving to find the second half of $7 million it needs to raise by the end of the month in order to maintain its current output of 175,000 meals, daily. “The timing is so critical on this, because we raise about 40 percent of the needed funds in the month of December. Money raised now helps feeds North Texans all year long, and every dollar donated means three meals for hungry North Texans,” said Jan Pruitt, President and CEO of NTFB, during a Dec. 5 press conference held at NTFB’s South Dallas warehouse.

Before SNAP reductions, NTFB and food pantries across the region were only able to provide about half of the 300,000 balanced meals needed to feed food-insecure residents. Since November, those numbers have skyrocketed.

“These cuts are impacting nearly half a million people right here in the North Texas Area that are serviced by our partner agencies,” Pruitt said.

“Nationally, there are 49 million people who are at risk of hunger, including 16 million children,” said Bob Aiken, President and CEO of Feeding America. “The issues are particularly acute in Texas…so when Jan talks about those reductions to the food stamp, the SNAP program, we know that is going to cause the lines at our pantries all across America to grow. It’s going to cause the lines here in Texas and North Texas to grow.”

At the end of his address, Aiken informed the guests that, beginning in February, Pruitt will be the new Chairman of the Board of Director for Feeding America.

Former Dallas Cowboy Defensive Tackle Chad Hennings was on hand to recruit volunteers. A board member for Christian Community Action, Hennings believes local communities can and should take the lead in nutrition supplement, especially in light of the Federal budget crisis.

“If you can’t take care of your own backyard, you’re not going to impact the rest of the world,” Hennings said. “…It shouldn’t be the government’s responsibility to take care of the people. It’s our responsibility as neighbors, as members of this community.

“You’re telling somebody else, then telling somebody else, people being able to give just a $5, $10 donation, whatever. It’s going to make an impact, because when you have thousands of people just doing that little bit, just makes a huge difference.” To volunteer with NTFB, visit “I want to get involved” on web.


Raking because we love you

Cry ‘havoc’ and let loose the school kids. Mockingbird Elementary students extend their
thanks to nearby neighbors by working to rid their yards of fall leaves. Photo by John Starkey

On a cool fall morning, Coppell’s Mockingbird Elementary students and teachers participated in The Great Rakesgiving. A service learning project, Rakesgiving found students working in mixed-age groups, Kindergarten through fifth grade, to rake the yards of the homes close to the school on Nov. 20.

“We are trying to say ‘thank you’ to our neighbors for helping out and dealing with all of the craziness that goes on living around a school,” said Caroline Plauche, a first grade teacher, as she watched over some rambunctious leaf rakers. “So we thought we’d talk to the kids about service projects and rake some of our neighbors’ leaves.

“The kids are loving it. This is our second house, and they are covered in leaves. We’ve filled up about six or seven bags. We have a mixture of Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth and fifth grade all here. They are taking turns sharing the rakes and picking (leaves) up. We are leaving notes on our neighbors’ doors to thank them for letting us do this.

“It’s crazy, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s great to have a mixture of all the grades and to see the kids using teamwork. They seem really excited to help the neighbors,” she said.

Church continues tradition of Serving Irving


By Leann Callaway

For nearly two decades, members of Oak View Baptist Church have spent Thanksgiving Serving Irving.

This year’s effort provided 2,600 traditional Thanksgiving meals to apartment complexes throughout the city and also donated meals to the homeless. Meals consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, rolls and a slice of pie. Volunteers signed up for various teams to assist with the outreach.

The promotion team hung flyers on doorknobs throughout the area around each serving site to let people know about the event. The baking team prepared pies of assorted flavors. The packaging team gathered supplies for each location.

The cooking team began food preparation on Wednesday evening and finished Thursday morning. Additional volunteers were available to serve the food, greet people as they arrived to pick up their meals and receive prayer requests.

All ages volunteer to help with Serving Irving and many families make it a tradition. Over the years, Oak View has served more than 32,000 Thanksgiving meals with the purpose and desire of connecting the community to the life-changing love of Christ.

“Serving Irving is a great opportunity to not only meet a physical need by providing meals for the community, but it also opens the door to provide the bread of life,” volunteer Woody Schober said. “My wife and I enjoy helping each year, along with our daughter, son-in-law and their daughters. It’s really special for us to have three generations working together.”

Along with providing Thanksgiving meals, volunteers had opportunities to tell people about Christ while passing out Bibles and gospel tracts.

“We want to extend the love of Christ in a very practical way and just let people know that God loves and cares about them,” Pastor Jim Gerlach said. “Serving Irving is a great way to give back to the community and give thanks to God in appreciation for what He has done.”


Trade food donation for free workout in Coppell

Participants at the 2012 Turkey Busting Workout celebrate after raising donations and their heartbeats for charity. Photo courtesy of Get You In Shape.
Participants at the 2012 Turkey Busting Workout celebrate after raising donations and their heartbeats for charity. Photo courtesy of Get You In Shape.

Just bring a can of food or an old coat and you can workout at Coppell’s Get You In Shape Fitness, for free, from Nov. 27-30. Owner Brad Linder calls them “Turkey-Busting Workouts” because they burn off those monstrous calories consumed on Thanksgiving.

“This was a huge hit since we started this in 2008, and it’s just been a great annual charity event ever since,” Linder said, “because Thanksgiving is a time to show our appreciation for all we have, especially our health.”

The “Turkey Busting workouts” are open to all Coppell and surrounding area residents and their family and friends on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 AM. The cost of admission is just one can of food or an old coat.

“All that we ask is that folks register in advance at so we can be sure we have enough equipment on hand to accommodate everyone,” Linder said. “The workouts are perfect for all regardless of age or fitness level – we make everyone feel welcome and customize the workouts so everybody gets what they need. This event will be a great way for the Coppell community to have fun, get fit, and make a difference.”

The small, individual contributions that many people take for granted add up to a crucial collective donation, especially at this time of year.

“During the holidays our food needs increase dramatically. Without the help of the community and donations, it would cost in excess of $60,000 to run the Holiday Meals Program. This is why help from the community is so vital,” said Trent Smith, Food Distribution Manager at the Christian Community Action.

The Get You In Shape Coppell Fitnesss Turkey-Busting Workouts will be held at Andy Brown Park East in Coppell.

“We anticipate a great turnout because folks enjoy working out with family, friends and friendly people. We’re supporting a great cause; CCA who distributes more than $1.4million of food each year to people in need. It’s a great way to give thanks for our health, our families, friends and good fortune, and help those less fortunate at the same time,” Linder explained.

SOURCE: Get You In Shape

Winfree Academy launches multi-phase donation program

Volunteers from Winfree Academy sort donations to Irving Cares. Photo courtesy of Winfree Academy.
Volunteers from Winfree Academy sort donations to Irving Cares. Photo courtesy of Winfree Academy.

When Winfree Academy Charter Schools received word that the food pantry at Irving Cares was beginning to run low, students and staff sprung into action. Since the beginning of this month, the Irving campus has been collecting canned goods, non-perishable food items, and gently used clothing. Phase 1 of their drive concluded on Nov. 14 when students from both the morning and afternoon sessions delivered campus donationsto the Irving Cares facility.Students and staff then stayed to categorize incoming goods, stock the shelves, and fill food orders for the food pantry’s clients.

Irving Cares is near and dear to the hearts of Winfree Academy. As a Linking Tree partner, the non-profit organization has been providing resources to students in need for the past five years. Students and staff members were thrilled for the opportunity to help the organization. “At any time circumstances could change and any of us could need assistance”,  said Student Council sponsor Valerie Albright. “It’s important to teach our students how to help others”.

Phase 1 of the drive concluded in time for almost 600 canned goods to be delivered to clients for the Thanksgiving holiday. Phase 2 is already in full swing. The campus is still collecting canned goods, non-perishable food items, and gently used clothing for donation next month prior to the December holidays. If you are interested in donating to Irving Cares, items can be dropped off at Winfree Academy Charter Schools -Irving Campus located at 3110 Skyway Circle South, Irving TX 75038. For more information about Winfree Academy or the drive, please contact the campus at 972-251-2010.

SOURCE: Winfree Academy