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Merry Christmas from Builders Across Texas

Something that’s probably underappreciated is the fact that builders across Texas and the nation are heavily invested in the communities they serve and go out of their way to give back, particularly during Christmas and the rest of the holiday season.

Companies and trade associations taking part in various charitable activities do not do it for publicity, which was made clear to me this past week when I started asking around about what sorts of things builders are doing in their communities. They just don't like to brag. So if they won't brag on themselves, the Construction Citizen team thought it would be appropriate for us to brag on them at least a little.

To get a list going, I asked the Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas what their chapters are doing to help people celebrate. This is, of course, not meant to be an exhaustive list of charities in which all construction companies are involved. There would simply be no way to mention all the good works happening right now. But here are some of the things happening around the Great State. 

The Young Professionals Committee of ABC’s Greater Houston chapter was involved in two community service projects for the holiday season. The first was a toy drive for Blue Santa and the second was a bike build for CYCLE Houston.

Blue Santa is a Houston Police Department run non-profit dedicated to providing as many toys as possible for local underprivileged children during the holiday season. CYCLE Houston aims to improve literacy in Houston schools. 72 percent of Texas students in 4th grade have a below-proficient reading level. CYCLE Houston encourages children to be active physically and mentally, empowering them to improve their literacy and possibly break the cycle of poverty. Under the program, students set educational goals and if they reach them, they earn a bicycle.

Up in Dallas/Fort Worth, TEXO (a unique combination of AGC and ABC) donated 1200 cans of food to the North Texas Food Bank along with an additional $1,100, created a KIDstruction fundraising effort to benefit Children's Medical Foundation and raised over $56,000 in the first year.

They also donated over 300 articles of clothing to the Dress For Success organization, rebuilt a kitchen and lobby area for the Behind Every Door organization, and the AIA/TEXO Committee worked with the Dallas SPCA on the second annual Bark N Build exhibit, which designed and built 18 unique dog houses to be raffled off at Northpark mall during the holidays. That effort is expected to raise about $35,000 for the SPCA.

In Austin, ABC of Central Texas delivered over 160 toys to the Texas State Guard's "Young Heroes of the Guard." The mission is to collect and distribute new toys to every pediatric patient at every dedicated children's hospital in Texas during Christmas. They also collected enough food for 86 holiday meals and gave those to the Central Texas Food Bank.

Down in Victoria, the Texas Mid Coast Chapter has worked to contribute thousands of dollars to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. As you’re probably aware, Ronald McDonald House provides comfort, safety, and advocacy in a home-like environment for families with critically ill or injured children who must travel to fulfill their healthcare needs. 

“Many of our local families have used the services of Ronald McDonald House so we are honored to be able to support a non-profit organization that provides much needed services to our community,” said the Mid Coast Chapter in one of their newsletters. “We believe that when resources are provided, positive social and public partnerships are built, which improve the quality of life.”

In the Freeport area, the ABC Texas Gulf Coast Chapter is involved in the West Columbia Police Department’s Blue Santa Toy Drive. The police department there says that through the years, the number of families who need assistance has steadily increased. “This year we will help approximately 30 to 40 families with a total of about 60 to 75 children,” the police department said. “We take applications up until the day we have our Blue Santa visit and even up until Christmas day, we will help a family if we are made aware of their need.”

The last one I’ll mention here is not necessarily a holiday thing, but it is well worth bringing to your attention. Over in Beaumont and Port Arthur, the ABC Southeast Texas Chapter says they have a simple and straightforward philosophy that goes like this: “Our Community, Our Commitment.”

In keeping with that mission, the chapter hosted a field trip this past summer for a nonprofit organization called “Inspire, Encourage, Achieve (IEA).” IEA is designed for underprivileged youth who end up in the juvenile justice system for a variety of reasons. From what I’ve seen in years of reporting on builders in this state, the Texas construction industry never gives up on our young folks just because they may have had a rough start in life.

IEA has an annual summer camp program, “Camp Bright Star,” that gives children between the ages of 12 through 17 with community-based enrichment activities, literacy programs and field trips. 

These kids were given the chance to visit the ABC-Southeast Texas’ Training Center where they listened to presentations given by a few ABC-SETX Craft and Safety Professionals about opportunities in the construction industry. The kids also got some hands-on time with crane and welding simulators, which I have also tried out and are pretty cool. We’re told everyone had a fun day and ABC Southeast Texas hopes to host IEA’s Summer Camp again next year.

Again, this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the charitable work that construction companies and associations around Texas are doing. This was simply an informal poll of what ABC chapters are doing. If your company or group is participating in charitable activities this Christmas – or you know of something going on like this that you think our readers should know about – feel free to share in the comments section below.

And Merry Christmas from the whole Construction Citizen team!