TDCJ hosts benefit rally
As part of the State Employee Charitable Campaign, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is hosting a rally at the West Hill Mall Friday, which will give TDCJ employees, SHSU students and Huntsville residents the opportunity to contribute to local charities while enjoying food, drinks and karaoke music.The Eighth Annual SECC Rally will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. Participants can donate to the campaign by purchasing items from the "Texas-sized garage sale," and bake sale. Turkey legs and other refreshments will also be sold starting at 10:30 a.m. According to David Standlee, director of executive services for TDCJ, the event has been helping charities since 1994. A criterion on size or need is not used in determining the amount of money that will be given, but rather "the proceeds are distributed equally among the charities," Standlee said.Benefiting organizations include the SAAFE House, the Good Shepard Mission, the Huntsville Community Childcare Center, and the Huntsville Education Foundation, according to Standlee.As one of the benefactors, the Huntsville Community Child Care Center on Martin Luther King Drive is excited about the event. "We sometimes send a representative from the center," said Barbara Smith, the director. Smith added that two of the board members work for TDCJ. According to Smith, the funds that are donated are used to partially or fully pay the tuition for some of parents who may need assistance. Materials and supplies for the students are also purchased with the donated funds.The Good Shepard Mission, which did not benefit from the rally last year, hopes this year will be different, said Director Dave Smith.Mission Assistant Elizabeth Bond said the funds for this charity would go to the purchase of the 1,300 hot meals that are served monthly. "We serve hot meals twice a day at noon and 6 p.m.," she said. Bond said the mission also maintains an overnight lodging facility for those in need or in a crisis. According to SECC documents, the state has outlined strict but fair regulations on the requirements for charities to benefit. These guidelines state that the charities must be "exempt, non-profit, charitable organizations, which provide health and human services to the citizens of Texas or to needy people overseas." These agencies must also be audited by an accountant to guarantee full and open financial disclosure, therefore "you can feel confident that your gift is being used efficiently and effectively by your designated charities." TDCJ is only one of several state agencies that contribute to the efforts of the charity campaign. In addition to events, state employees are encouraged to take advantage of payroll deduction as a convenient method of giving.Standlee said the monetary goal for the Pine Belt area of Texas, which includes six surrounding counties, is $100,000. This event alone raised approximately $5,000 last year, Standlee said. He is optimistic about this year's results.
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