Triangle charities still can use last-minute donations

sgilman@newsobserver.comDecember 23, 2013 

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Sometimes the spirit of giving flows hot and fast like porridge before Christmas Day, providing a life-source for many charities. But it can also get buried beneath wrapping paper and travel arrangements.

It’s not too late to give.

The Methodist Home for Children, a Raleigh nonprofit that cares for children placed in the foster care system because of abuse or neglect, can use monetary donations to buy Christmas gifts for children who came after its adopt-a-child program was over. The organization provided gifts for every child who was on the list, but more children have come since then.

“Donations would go to anybody we get in between now and the end of the year,” spokeswoman Jeannie Norris said.

Children’s needs “are the same for months and months,” she said, and money not used on Christmas gifts would go toward basic necessities throughout the rest of the year.

The Wake County Salvation Army is supported in part by the red kettles heralded by bell-ringers. With Thanksgiving arriving later than usual this year, however, kettle donations got delayed by about a week.

“That could be a potential loss of anywhere between $50,000 to $65,000,” spokeswoman Lizzy Adams said. “That would certainly help all the programs throughout the year.”

That could translate to about 500 families not receiving financial assistance for rent or utilities, or about 250 families of four not receiving groceries for two weeks.

Needs other than cash

Some charities don’t need just cash. The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh, the Fuquay-Varina Emergency Food Pantry and Urban Ministries of Wake County are calling for canned meat products.

“It’s just rare to get protein donated,” said Amy Beros, director of development for the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Meat is more expensive than grain products, so the organization tends to get plenty of pastas and breads but not enough “shelf-stable” protein, she said.

While its offices will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, it can take cash donations on its website, www.foodshuttle.org. Throughout the rest of the week, food items can be dropped off at the warehouse on 1001 Blair Drive in Raleigh.

Ray O’Brian with the Fuquay-Varina food pantry said it especially needs items like canned tuna or pasta with meat sauce because “they store easily.”

Meats, veggies needed

John Welch of Urban Ministries of Wake County said the organization that feeds about 50 families each day has plenty of grains, but is fresh out of turkeys. When families arrive at their distribution center along Capital Boulevard, they will receive a basket with plenty of food, but probably no protein.

“I know we have a lot of bread and a lot of carbs, so it would be great if we can look out for their best interest and supplement those with meat and veggies,” Welch said.

One organization that needs longer-term commitments than money or food is the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle, a group that provides mentors to children ages 6 to 15. Mostly, it needs men to mentor young boys.

As of November, 196 boys were on the waiting list for a mentor, someone to take them on fun excursions and offer life advice. The boys usually wait about 10 months before getting matched up, according to spokeswoman Denise Parada.

Volunteers must be ready to commit to one year of mentoring, and after that first year, can stay with the child until he turns 18.

Gilman: 919-829-8955

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