Spirit of Giving: MCCGD’s coat drive for the homeless

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

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Colleen-Darraugh

Colleen Darraugh

This year for the sixth year, Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas is collecting coats for the homeless.

The first delivery will go to clients of AIDS Interfaith Network, said the Rev. Colleen Darraugh, MCCGD pastor. Of people with AIDS in Dallas, that organization’s clients are among the most at-risk and most likely to be homeless, she said.

Darraugh said that the annual coat drive has expanded this year to include sweats, hoodies and socks.
“A dry pair of socks can make all the difference,” she said.

The church kicked off its holiday season of giving by participating in Saturday Night Live at AIN, in which a group prepared a weekend supper for clients and provided  entertainment. After dinner, the 27 volunteers sent AIN’s clients home with bags of granola bars, apples and oranges in addition to leftovers.

Darraugh said the need is so great, members of the church by themselves can’t provide everything AIN’s clients need.

“So we’re asking people to ask neighbors and co-workers to contribute,” she said.

They are collecting items every Sunday at the church at 1840 Hutton Drive #100 in Carrollton.

Anyone who would like to help with delivery is welcome to join. Darraugh said they have a borrowed horse trailer that they expect to be filled with items. After stopping at AIN near downtown Dallas, they will distribute items to people living on the street.

But Darraugh said the need doesn’t end at Christmas, and the church will continue collecting items to make a January delivery as well.

She said that especially those not staying in a shelter often lose what little they have when they leave their items unattended.

To arrange to make a donation during the week, to participate in the delivery of items to the homeless or for more information, call the church at 972-243-0761.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Spirit of Giving: Linze Serrell’s Toys for Tots Show

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

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Linze-Serrell

Linze Serrell

Saturday night, Dec. 10, Garlow’s in Gun Barrel City will play host to Linze Serrell’s annual Toys for Tots fundraising show, to gather donations of cash and toys for the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots program.

Brian Paris, show director at Garlow’s, said that this is the second holiday season since the bar opened, and the second year that the club has hosted the event.

Paris explained that the annual Toys for Tots benefit show was started more than 25 years ago by Bill Lindsey, known across the Metroplex as Linze Serrell, a female impersonator who sings live and focuses his efforts on charitable events.

“This is Linze’s baby, her pet project, on top of everything else that [Lindsey and his partner Michael Champion, aka Sable Alexander] do,” Paris said.

For Lindsey, the annual show is a way to give back and say thanks for the blessings in his own life.

“My mom was a single mom who worked three jobs. There were times growing up that we wouldn’t have had Christmas without the support of the church and organizations like Toys for Tots,” he said. “I know what it feels like to be without, and I want to do something to make sure other kids don’t have to go without.”

Despite a recent stroke, Lindsey said he would definitely attend the event at Garlow’s. “I’d have to be six feet under not to be at this show! And even then, they’d dig me up and put me in the corner! I even plan on singing a song in the show.”

Paris said the show will be “really just a regular drag show,” except that all the performers are donating their time and all the tips go to help buy toys for Toys for Tots.

“Last year, we had a stage full of people participating, and we raised about $2,000. And we had a lot of fun doing it. And all the people participating do it on their own dime. No one receives a penny of compensation.

“These entertainers, we all travel thousands of miles each year, whether it’s to participate in a pageant system for the Home for the Holidays [a program that raises funds to send people with HIV/AIDS home]. But there is nothing in this show that has any personal benefit for the performers, in terms of winning a title or anything. They just do it for the fun of it and for the chance to make Christmas a little bit better for some children who might not have had Christmas otherwise.”

He said that this show is also the only time that Garlow’s ever charges a cover charge, and that the suggested donation of $5 or a new, unwrapped toy at the door will also go into the Toys for Tots total.

But Paris said he knows that a trip to Gun Barrel to attend the show may be out of the question for some. “If someone wants to help but can’t make it down here to Gun Barrel City, then they should find someone where they are who needs help,” he said. “It doesn’t even have to be doing something for kids.

There are lots of people in nursing homes who need a hug. Just go and sit and spend some time with someone who needs your company.”

Linze Serrell’s annual Toys for Tots benefit show begins at 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Garlow’s, 308 E. Main St. in Gun Barrel City.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Spirit of Giving: LGBT community gets into the holiday spirit

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

TGRA Dallas’ Hard Candy Christmas Show and Auction

Dan-and-Mark

Mark Gurrola, left, and Dan Nagel

While some local charities have experienced major declines in fundraising due to the bad economy, the Dallas chapter of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association has actually seen an increase, according to President Dan Nagel.

“When I was first elected to the board as the chapter’s state rep four years back, my partner Mark Gurrola and I knew there were opportunities for improvement in our organization that were greatly needed,” Nagel said. “With the condition of our economy, change had to occur. Our first goal was to partner with other organizations and businesses in the Dallas GLBT community. There really was no relationship at that time.

“Secondly, our events needed to be produced and promoted better than in the past. Third, the membership had shrunk and needed to grow,” Nagel said. “We have successfully done all three.”

The new and improved TGRA Dallas will again be on display Dec. 10, when the organization hosts its 25th annual Hard Candy Christmas Show and Auction. This year, TGRA Dallas will again team with the United Court of the Lone Star Empire for Hard Candy Christmas.

Nagel said Hard Candy Christmas was started by TGRA Dallas members Tom Davis and Michael Lee, who produced the first show in 1987. That night, a drag queen named “Boo-tee-La-Tits” took the stage and sang “Hardy Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton, Nagel said.

This year, hosts and emcees will be Miss International Gay Rodeo Victoria Weston, Miss TGRA Trisha Davis and Empress XXIII Miss Donna Dumae.

“It’s very Christmas themed,” Nagel said. “Most of the entertainers will do Christmas numbers. There will be a lot of live singers. Not all of it is going to be live, but we try to fill this with 50 percent live vocal talents.”

In addition to 20-25 auction baskets, the event will feature a Christmas tree on which bulbs will be sold until it’s completely lit — and maybe even an elf or two, Nagel said.

“We produce this event basically cost-free,” he said. “Our members will, out of their own pockets, go out and buy stuff and put auction baskets
together, so there’s really no expense. I’d say about 99.9 percent of it will all go to charity. “

TGRA Dallas, part of the 29-year-old TGRA, hosts 10 fundraising events each year — or one every four to six weeks, Nagel said. Each year the chapter’s board votes on beneficiaries for the following year’s events.

For 2011, beneficiaries are Health Services of North Texas, Youth First Texas, Texas Legal Hospice, Legacy Counseling Center, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Services of Dallas, the Sharon St. Cyr Fund and AIDS Interfaith Network.

TGRA is a nonprofit whose mission is to promote the Western lifestyle, produce rodeos and raise money for charity. And when it comes to the latter, Nagel said the Dallas chapter does it best.

“We’re the only chapter out of TGRA that has these big annual events that have a lot of longevity to them,” Nagel said. “I think here in Dallas we’ve been fortunate, because I’ve seen the other chapters fundraising go down the last three or four years, where ours has gone up.”

TGRA Dallas and the United Court of the Lone Star Empire team up for the Hard Candy Christmas Show and Auction at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave.

— John Wright

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas