Groupon creates fundraiser for Arlington homeless shelter

ARLINGTON -- Groupon, the coupon network that offers at least 50 percent off on products ranging from floor wax to golf retreats, has an unusual bargain for its North Texas followers: For just $10 you can help provide milk for the homeless at the Arlington Life Shelter.

G-Team, the philanthropic wing of Groupon, has crafted a three-day online fundraiser for the shelter to start an account for milk purchases. The shelter, which provides short-term stays and support services for up to 100 homeless people at a time, is trying rely less on milk donations, which often come in bulk amounts that end up spoiling.

"My real hope is that we might introduce the shelter to a few more people who didn't realize what we do, and show them that their $10 can make an impact," said Janel Holt, assistant executive director of the 24-year-old shelter at 325 W. Division St. "The idea is that everybody gives a little to make a big impact."

Holt learned about G-Team while scouring the Groupon sites for bargains in Florida, where she was planning a trip. She called and G-Team quickly set up the project.

The fundraiser, which ends at midnight tonight, is a "featured deal" on Groupon's Dallas and Fort Worth websites and had to get at least 30 donors for the deal to "make," or else the money goes back to the donors. But that threshold was reached about noon Wednesday and guarantees at least $300 for the account, enough to buy 10 weeks worth of milk for shelter residents.

"Milk is something we use every day," said Liesl Gray, the shelter's communications manager. But sometimes the milk donations are too meager and sometimes too large, she said. "If you had 10 gallons of milk at your home, could you drink it all before it goes bad? It's better for us to have an account to draw from when we need it."

Groupon started with its daily deals in November 2008. G-Team came about in July 2010 to carry on the community service mission of Groupon's predecessor, The Point.

"We're getting back to our roots in social action by mobilizing people to support philanthropic efforts," said Kelsey O'Neill, G-Team spokeswoman.

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641