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Local High Country Charities Make a Last Minute Push to Help Neighbors in Need This Holiday Season

by Madison Fisler Lewis

Dec. 19, 2014. Don’t look now, but Christmas is right around the corner and that means the holidays have already crept up on us. While many in the High Country have spent their winter season preparing gifts, trimming trees and stuffing stockings, many others in the area have also dedicated their time to helping those in need.

Just because Christmas Day is in sight doesn’t mean that the giving is slowing down. Many local area charities are making a last push to help all they can this holiday season, a season which has seen even more in need than was expected this year.

And it’s not too late to help. Many charitable organizations are still working hard to ensure the Christmas spirit isn’t lost on anyone, and there is still time to express the true meaning of the season of giving.

The Watauga Crisis Assistance Network’s (WeCAN) Warm Hearts, Warm Homes program raises money to assist families in need in paying for heating fuel as the days get colder. Anyone in a low-income household is eligible to ask WeCAN for fuel assistance starting Nov. 1. Through partnerships with many local energy companies, the organization provides each eligible client with 100 gallons of fuel for as long as funds will allow.

Warm Hearts, Warm Homes runs completely off of donations and can only operate as long as funds keep coming into the organization to be distributed to keep families warm this winter. Twenty-six percent of residents in Watauga County live in poverty with another 20 percent unable to earn a living wage.imgres

Campaign contributions can be donated online at www.hosphouse.org or mailed to Hospitality House with checks made out to WeCAN at P.O. Box 309 Boone, NC 28607.

Operation Christmas Child kicked off the season with national collection week last month. The organization collects shoeboxes, packed with gifts like school supplies, hygiene items and small toys made by giving families, organizations and individuals to send to children in need around the world. Even though National Collection week is over for this year, gifts are still being collected and processed at the local processing centers.

Collection centers in the area include Three Forks Baptist Church in Boone, the Boone Processing Center at 801 Bamboo Road, West Jefferson First Baptist Church in West Jefferson, Lower Creek Baptist Church in Lenoir and others.

For more information about packing a shoebox for a child, dropoff or any other information about operation Christmas Child or Samaritan’s Purse, click here.

Toys for Tots will utilize the Boone Mall as a collection center to collect toys for children in need. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity, is the authorized fundraising and support organization for the Toys for Tots Program.  The Foundation provides the funding and support needed for successful annual toy collection and distribution campaigns.

Becky Fowler, who runs the local Toys for Tots initiative with her husband, Kris, said that donations are still being accepted. Donations of toys of monetary contributions are always welcome.  For more information about the Boone campaign, click here.

Hunger and Health Coalition’s Sharing Tree will once again help those in need this holiday season. The tree allows individuals to pick a family off of the tree and purchase gifts to help make their holidays a little brighter. In addition to the gifts, participants are asked to cook a holiday meal for the family and deliver it. This year, there are still many names on the tree left unclaimed. For more information and to help out a family this year, call the Hunger and Health Coalition at 828-262-1628.

High Country Caregivers Foundation needs the help of the High Country public once again for their “Holiday For Kids” fundraiser through the Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP). The goal is to collect as many gifts as possible to relieve the burden on kinship caregivers during the holiday season. A toy drive will be held in Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties to collect gifts for children in these families and relieve the burden for the caregivers.

For more information about the High Country Caregivers Foundation, call 828265-5434.

The Boone Police Department is organizing a food drive to help people in need in our area in partnership with the Watauga Chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. The drive will take place through Jan. 30, 2015 and will benefit the Hunger and Health Coalition, which collects, organizes and distributes food, medication, clothing and firewood to needy families in the area.

“During our work in the community, we encounter people who are far less fortunate,” said Lt. Chris Hatton in a release. “We see people in all stages of life that have to worry about how to get their next meal. We cannot ignore the needs in our community and we feel led to help. Unemployment, underemployment and the ever-increasing price of goods is causing many good people to choose between their basic needs.”

For the drive, any non-perishable food is accepted, but the following items are in short supply: Peanut butter, grape jelly, breakfast cereal and canned pasta. Food items may be donated at The Boone Police Department lobby and the Boone Fire Department Station 2 lobby.