Three nonprofits in Angelina County are vying for the top spot in the McWilliams & Son Heating and Air Conditioning “Give Back” event.

Supporters of the Winnie Berry Humane Society of Angelina County, the East Texas Cancer Alliance of Hope or the Texas Forestry Museum can vote for their favorite until Oct. 31. The winner will receive $1,000, second place $500 and third place $250.

“The three organizations this year we chose were three drastically different causes, so it gives all walks of life an opportunity to support something they are passionate about, whether it’s local history, supporting cancer patients or abuse and neglected animals” Crystal Williams, the marketing director for McWilliams & Son, said.

For the last two years, McWilliams & Son has run an Ugly Sweater contest around Christmas in which employees would dress up in ugly sweaters and whoever got the most votes would donate the winnings to their favorite nonprofit. This year’s contest is a way to bring awareness to the community about the nonprofits they hope to help so the impact lasts longer, Williams said.

“All three are guaranteed money,” she said. “This is just a way for us to bring our customers, using our page, to put the word out there about our nonprofits.”

Winnie Berry dreams of using it for various purposes, including daily animal care needs like food, laundry detergent and new water bowls, improvements to their outdoor kennels and a new microchip scanner, shelter director Kristy Bice said.

“We’re so excited to be participating and partnering with McWilliams & Son for this friendly competition between three very unique and worthy nonprofits,” Bice said.

Since Winnie Berry began promoting the event on their own Facebook page, they’ve seen interest grow from their supporters, as well, she said.

The Texas Forestry Museum doesn’t have anything specific they hope to use the money for, but expect it to help the museum remain free and continue to do free events, Kaitlin Wieseman, education coordinator for the Texas Forestry Museum, said.

“I know we’re definitely hoping to get a win but we’re also hoping to get our name out there for our Forestry Museum to be recognized as a nonprofit,” she said.

Many believe the museum receives state or federal funding, which is not true, she said. They are able to remain open because of community support.

“We’re not just about forestry, but also about the history of our community and East Texas,” she said. “We have a lot for families to come out to us for something to do and use our interactive exhibits. Those who have not been here in a while should come check us out.”

Ashley Berry, the director of the East Texas Cancer Alliance of Hope, was not available for comment. However, the organization has grown within the community since it first started at the first of the year.

The nonprofit raises funds to be used to help local residents who have been diagnosed with cancer cover basic necessities, money for travel, rent, utilities or groceries. Fighting cancer is a drain on resources, and especially for families who already struggle to make it financially, it can make it impossible to survive, Berry said in a previous interview.

Donations from this organization go directly to East Texas people rather than a national organization, Berry said. This means anyone who donates could see their donations being used by neighbors, friends or strangers at the grocery store — a fact that Berry said makes her organization unique.

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