Ways To Give Back


Whether you long to play Santa’s Elf or prefer to remain in the background, there is plenty of opportunity to share holiday cheer this month. Many local nonprofits need both donations and volunteers to fill the stockings and stomachs of those in need.

Here are some in the Wilmington area:

Every December, Good Friends of Wilmington holds a luncheon for women who wish to collaborate in holiday philanthropy. There’s no charge to attend the brown-bag event, but attendees are expected to make a donation. The money raised goes to the New Hanover County Department of Social Services’ emergency fund to assist families in need. This year’s luncheon takes place Dec. 4. To reserve a seat, call (828) 719-9916.

Both ElderHaus centers in Wilmington can use some Santa’s helpers to assist seniors  with their Christmas stockings and to help them make cards to mail to their grandchildren. Every year, volunteers stage a holiday musical at each center – actors and musicians can inquire about participating. Donations also are accepted. Info: 251-0660.

Good Shepherd Center, which helps the homeless find employment and permanent shelter, always welcomes donations of canned goods as well as toiletries such as razors, soaps, and basic medications like Tylenol. “Everything you need at your home we need at Good Shepherd,” says volunteer coordinator Kristen Pollock. “We like to organize multiple days of Christmas by doing giveaways of gloves, scarves, coats during that time; we love donations of stuff like that, used or new.” Volunteers also are needed to serve weekend lunches in upcoming months. Info: 763-4424

Volunteer-staffed Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is in special need of financial donations during the holidays so the organization can purchase extra food when requests for help increase. The food pantry provides a box of basic foods to 1,300 families each month and can always use non-perishable containers of fruit (including no-sugar varieties for diabetics) and cereal.  To volunteer with or donate to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, visit its website at www.motherhubbardsnc.org.

Opportunities for extra hands for The Salvation Army range from ringing bells and monitoring donation kettles to organizing its Angel Tree program and helping out at the group’s toy stores. Donations of many kinds are welcome this time of year, says The Salvation Army’s Maj. Richard Watts, but toys for children’s gifts must be new. Drop off gifts at a Salvation Army facility or participate in the Angel Tree (located in Independence Mall; deadline is mid-December).The organization can also use coats, blankets, socks, and undergarments. To help or to give, call 443-8513.

Both DREAMS of Wilmington and Carousel Center for Abused Children also offer opportunities for local residents to “adopt” children for gift giving at Christmas time. To learn more, call 772-1501 (DREAMS) or 254-9898 (Carousel Center).

Want to extend a holiday helping hand to someone who’s far away from home at holiday time? About 650 sailors and other marine workers sail into the Port of Wilmington during December and the International Seamen’s Center provides Christmas gifts and holiday treats for them but needs help with the effort. Volunteers are needed to drive visiting seamen to local destinations such as the mall or to accompany them to the Seamen’s Center itself. To learn more about giving and volunteering opportunities, call 762-3792.

Although most volunteer opportunities with Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter require training, there are two tasks that don’t and are much appreciated by the facility. Hospice is always looking for groups to participate in its Meals of Love program, in which volunteers puts together a meal and bring it to the Wilmington center to feed family members and guests visiting acute end-of-life patients. You also can sign up for Hospice’s Cakes for Occasions program, which provides birthday and other special cakes for patients and their families. Info: 772-5444

Leading into New Communities (LINC), whose mission is to provide a successful transition for those who have been released from federal or state prison, is always looking for donations of clothing, hygiene items, household items, or monetary donations. LINC has volunteer opportunities year-round. Info: 762-4635

One very short-term volunteer opportunity with Nourish NC can brighten the holidays for children whose cupboards at home are often bare. On Dec. 12, the local organization will pack boxes with two weeks’ worth of food for youngsters to take home with them at the start of winter break. If you can’t volunteer, donations of food or money are appreciated, says Nourish NC spokeswoman Beth Hollis. “Money is most useful, because we can buy food from the food bank really inexpensively. But for those who want to donate food, our big needs are for large cans of ravioli and other canned pasta, large jars of peanut butter and jelly, large cans of soup, chicken, and tuna,” she says. Info: 612-6551.