GIVE is an organization of high-school girls, created and supported by the Women’s Fund of Smith County. GIVE stands for “Girls Invested in Volunteer Efforts,” a name that explains the goal of the organization. It was created in 2014 to offer high school girls the opportunity to give back to their community. The members fundraise and provide an annual grant to a local non-profit that serves women and children. The goal is to have a diverse group of girls that represent all schools in Smith County. By uniting girls from all backgrounds, the common goal becomes a shared hope for a better community.
Our members meet once per month. At our first meeting in September, we get acquainted with one another and choose officers and committees. Each year, at least five schools in the Tyler area are represented so it is a fun opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. October is a busy month. We learn about previous grants, discuss fundraising goals, and select our annual service project.
In November, we attend the Women’s Fund Power of the Purse event where we can fundraise for our grant. This year, the Power of the Purse will be held on Tuesday, November 8th at the Green Acres CrossWalk Center. The luncheon benefits the mission of the Women’s Fund. This year, the event will feature keynote speaker Becca Stevens – an author, priest, social entrepreneur, and founder of Thistle Farms.
We fundraise by partnering with “We Help Two,” a company that makes funky, themed socks for us to sell throughout the community. The GIVE participants are instructed to sell the socks to friends, family, and peers. We sell in person, and there is also an online store accessible on the Women’s Fund of Smith County website.
December is our service project month and in January and February, we begin to evaluate non-profit agencies that are candidates for our end of year grant. In March and April, we invite three or four organizations to attend our meeting where they provide an overview of their mission and discuss how they would use our grant if they were to receive the award. These two months are critical to our decision. Each member has her own point of view that is valued in this process. Finally, our grant is presented in May. The Women’s Fund matches the funds that we raise. Last year, we were able to award $10,300 to the East Texas Crisis Center!
The overall experience of GIVE fosters kinder hearts and empathy and teaches us not just about giving back, but how to give responsively. As a GIVE participant for three years, I have been able to learn a great deal about my community and the critical needs that exist here. I have also deepened my knowledge of philanthropy and collective giving. In my years in GIVE so far, we have given substantial grants to three exceptional non-profits, including, For the Silent, Hope Haven of East Texas, and the East Texas Crisis Center. GIVE has offered me a variety of experiences that range from making friends to fundraising to service projects that have all taught me to be a more educated and compassionate community member.
If you are interested in learning more about The Women’s Fund of Smith County and the GIVE program, visit womensfundsc.org/give and follow “g.i.v.e.girls” on social media.
Caroline Khalaf is a senior at All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler; she has been a member of G.I.V.E since 2019. The Women’s Fund of Smith County was started in 2007 as a collective giving and grant-making organization that funds programs that enrich the lives of women and children in our community. It now has over 300 members and has awarded over 2.3 million dollars in grants to 29 dif