Several times throughout the year, Collin County Moms features a local non-profit organization that assists moms and/or families in need. We love the opportunity to spotlight how local families can help out through volunteering, donating time or money, and more, right in our own community. We try to pick organizations that our contributors know and volunteer for personally, and are eager to share the needs of our friends and neighbors throughout Collin County.
As we break for the summer, what a wonderful time to teach our children about the power of community, volunteering, and true selfless service. The yoga and mindfulness teacher in me can’t resist the science behind volunteering. Did you know:
- Volunteering decreases the risk of depression.
2. Volunteering gives a sense of purpose and teaches valuable skills.
3. Volunteering helps people stay physically and mentally active.
4. Volunteering may reduce stress levels.
5.Volunteering helps you meet others and develop new relationships.
(Findings from Mayo Clinic)
I sat down with Teri Carlo, Volunteer Services Manager for Allen Community Outreach (ACO), to discuss the organization, how CCM and families can get involved, and what our community’s greatest needs are right now.
Q: Tell me the story of how ACO was started.
A: Allen Community Outreach (ACO) was founded in 1985 by a group of caring community members who provided information and referrals for Allen residents. After a few years, with the growth of the area population along with its needs, ACO began to offer essential human and social services such as food and case management for families in crisis, expanding its reach to Fairview and Lucas.
Q: Who does ACO help?
A: Today, ACO is the sole local provider of free comprehensive human services in Allen, and surrounding communities in Collin County, Texas. These services help families avoid hunger and homelessness and gain financial security. ACO offers income support, including food, clothing, utility and housing assistance, medical visits and prescriptions assistance; education and employment services, including GED classes, college assistance, financial coaching, and career counseling.
Q: How can people in Collin County get involved with ACO?
A: There are many ways to get involved. In-person volunteer opportunities are available in the food pantry, ACO resale shop, ACO Boutique in Watters Creek, the processing center at the warehouse, as well as helping with special events such as the “Fill the Bus” school supply campaign/drive, children’s summer food program that feed the kids in the area that may have received free lunch at school, and a HUGE Christmas program that provides gifts/clothes for thousands of children in Collin County.
Donations are essential. With the re-opening of the resale store and Cares Center, we are in MAJOR need of gently used children’s clothing and other household items. This is a year-round operation that provides funding for many of the Allen Community Outreach programs. Food drives, clothing drives, volunteering and monetary donations are all ways that our supporting community can help!
Q: Where would someone begin their journey to get involved with your NPO?
A: ACO has been helping the community over the last 35+ years. With over 3,000 volunteers in our current database, we continue to grow and evolve as a volunteer community. We cherish those that serve the community through ACO and could not do it without them. The Community Development team works with schools, corporations, and local groups to host food and clothing drives and many other partnering opportunities to share our mission with the community.
Q: How can families who are practicing social distancing get involved ?
A: COVID-19 has impacted all of us in an unprecedented way, as individuals and as a community. The retail stores closed and the donation receiving center was suspended for a time. The food pantry remained open for drive-through service to all Collin County residents four times a week and is still running as of today. Clients remain in their vehicles while food and other items are loaded into their cars. This was vital for many in the community due to loss of jobs and the need to provide children who were virtual learning with food at home.