Local Charities

November, the month of giving is here
Story by Lisa Stites
Helping others brings out the best in people, and there are many giving opportunities that can really make a difference in Brunswick County. With so many natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and wildfires in California drawing much-needed support recently, national relief and religious organizations have asked for our help. With many worthy causes to support, it’s always good to know that our assistance is also put to good use on a local level. These charities work to better our communities in very different ways.

Hope Harbor Home works with victims of domestic violence and Matthew’s Ministry helps put food on the table for Brunswick County school children in need. Brunswick Bands is a non-profit organization dedicated to making instrumental music accessible to Brunswick County audiences and mentoring students, helping put instruments into young hands at a time when giving young teens options is more important than ever.
Offering hope for domestic violence victims Hope Harbor Home has been offering around-the-clock assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children since 1988. The organization offers much more than shelter though. Volunteers provide transportation, help finding employment, housing, education, medical attention, counseling, court and legal services.
“A lot of people, if they’ve been victims for a while, they’re likely to be isolated from people, work, money,” said Lynn Carlson, Executive Director of Hope Harbor Home. “They can be fairly removed from the world.”
Carlson has worked with the group for more than 13 years. She said that the work she and the volunteers do is difficult and can be thankless, but that somehow, they find it in themselves to continue, even though they are now seeing a second generation of families needing services.
“A lot of times we don’t know what happens to people when they leave,” Carlson said. “Some we do, some we hear back from a long time later. We have to remember that what we do there is plant seeds. We don’t know when or if when those seeds are going to sprout.”
WIth much support from the Brunswick County community, Hope Harbor Home tries to supply all clients in a year with a gift, provide school supplies for the school-age children, do seasonal programs, etc. Recently, a women’s group from Southport Baptist Church provided makeovers, which Carlson said was so well received.
“It’s just so nice to see their looks on their faces to do something fun and that’s just for them,” she said. “They get to see people that really care for them as people, not just cases.”
The organization relies on the Hope Chest Thrift Stores, located in Oak Island, Holden Beach and Leland, for approximately 26 percent of the annual budget.
“That’s really only our form of self sustenance. We never charge anyone for anything that we do,” Carlson said.
Donations of clothing, furniture, and household goods are accepted at all three stores. Monetary donations, store gift cards and gas gift cards also help Hope Harbor provide services. Some community partners hold annual fundraisers to support the organization, such as a gala, golf tournament and bike rally. Check https://hopeharborhome.org/ to learn more about fundraisers and volunteer opportunities.
October was Domestic Violence Awareness month, and there is still work to do to make sure people receive the help they need.
“Domestic violence is a crime,” Carlson said. “It’s not a family thing, it’s a crime. It wouldn’t be ok if it happened to you on the streets. It’s not okay if it happens to you in your home.”

Matthew’s Ministry — feeding children in need
For children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, Matthew’s Ministry can help fill in the gaps. What started with a simple prayer request in 2010 has grown to a program that provides food for more than 500 Brunswick County children every week of the school year.
Southport resident Kristie Disbrow said she and her husband Jason wanted to do something to help when a teacher asked for prayers for a child who didn’t have enough food at home. That first anonymous donation led to the creation of Matthew’s Ministry. Today, more than 100 volunteers help the organization, which uses backpacks to send food home with children for the weekend. Matthew’s Ministry works with 13 schools in Brunswick County.
At the beginning of the school year, volunteers collect brand new backpacks — 900 this school year — and fill inserts with food each week. The children bring the bags back on Mondays. Disbrow said they purchase food from the local food bank, and also use donations. They provide pasta and sauce, ramen noodles, granola bars, oatmeal, crackers and other items. Sometimes, social workers also ask the group for other donations when they are working with a specific family in need.
“A lot of people we serve are the working poor, which means they are not making enough to meet their needs but making in too much to get assistance in another way,” Disbrow said. In Brunswick County, 27 percent of children ages 0-18 are food insecure, she said, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Once a month, volunteers gather at the Ministry building, at 8500 E. Oak Island Drive, to pack bags. There is a drop box for donations of money or food, which are always appreciated, Disbrow said. Glass containers are not allowed, however. The program costs approximately $100,000 each school year.
Anyone interested in helping out should check the website, www.matthewsministry.com, for more information. Disbrow stays in contact with similar organizations in other areas, as they share ideas and information. Though she has met her goal of bringing the program to schools across the County, she said the program will likely grow as needs in the County increase, especially with the number of seasonal workers living in the area. She said she is grateful for the level of support Matthew’s Ministry can rely on.
“It’s working because we live in such a great place,” she said.

Helping others through song
Members of the Brunswick Concert Band share a love for music, and they volunteer their time to entertain audiences with concerts a few times a year. They also take their desire to share their love of music to another level, by helping students who might not otherwise have the chance to learn an instrument.
A new instruments can cost several thousand dollars. Though there are instrument rental programs available, many families can’t add the monthly payment to their already-stretched budgets. The Band accepts donated instruments, and then loans them to students in Brunswick County. The Music Student Assistance Program (MSAP) began in 2009, and has placed more than 90 instruments with students.
“A lot of people have instruments in their closets they haven’t played for 40 years and they don’t plan on it,” said Mary Helen Turek, publicity chairman for the Band. “We get them cleaned up and loan them to students who may not be able to pay for them.” Century Storage offers space for the instruments, and Leland instrument repairmen Jim Varno gets them in working order. “We work with the (schools’) band directors to see where the needs are,” Turek said.
The Band currently has almost 70 members, ranging in age from 13 to 87. Some are professional musicians, and some haven’t played in decades, Turek said.
“We want to be a true community band. Being a true community band means we need diversity, so we have our students and adults with a range of talents and backgrounds. We love playing with the students. They can’t wait to get in and tell you about their week. The students are just awesome,” she said.
The Band helps students in other ways as well. Members work with new music students at the middle school. In October, they also sponsored a trophy and volunteered at the South Brunswick High School Marching Band’s South Coast Classic, an annual band competition the high school hosts.
The Band survives on donations and grants, and performs at concerts in the spring, summer and winter. The band also provides music for Brunswick Community College graduation and members have served as pit musicians for local theater. Turek has been playing flute with the Band for about 10 years, and says her favorite performance is the Naturalization Ceremony, part of the annual July 4th festivities in Southport. A smaller group of the Band plays as the Brunswick Big Band, which also performs a few times a year.
Monetary donations are always appreciated. The value of a donated instrument is also tax deductible, since the Band is a non-profit organization. For more information about how to help the Band in its mission to provide instrumental musical performances, check http://www.brunswickbands.org/ or find the Band on Facebook.

HOLIDAY BOUTIQUE
18th Annual Holiday Boutique – Marker 614 (614 West Street, Southport) — Nov. 10 and 11, 9am-4pm. The Artisans Holiday Boutique can make this year’s Holiday shopping delightful. You can select items from a varied and unique selection of fine arts and fine crafts from all media, textiles, flower arrangements, jewelry, painting, ceramics, and more. All offered at an unequaled venue in scenic downtown Southport. Over 60 Artisans will offer their fine arts and crafts at this Annual Holiday Boutique. Artists will be on hand to answer questions. Options are also available for special orders on many items.
Boutique selections include Christmas stockings and decorations, ornaments made of porcelain carved wood, pottery and hand painted glass; baby clothes, hand weaved baskets; original paintings and collages in all media, prints, lithographs and giclée, digital graphic art and photography, note cards and invitations; framed calligraphy, floral wreaths and arrangements, candles, handmade soaps; tile inlaid wood trays and tables; linen tablecloths, runners, napkins, kitchen towels and tableware; large variety of jewelry – earrings, necklaces, bracelets, crafted from a variety of materials; pottery; quilted blankets and hangings; knitted bags and hats; purses and other fabric art; stained glass works; bead art, seashell art, and painted glassware.
Our Baskets of Art Raffle is a great feature of the Boutique. Its purpose is to raise money for Stepping Up for Arts, the 501c3 arm of The Artisans. Tickets go on sale at the Artisans Gallery October 1 , 2017 through November 9th and will also be sold at the Holiday Boutique. We have over 12 baskets with unique and fun items crafted by The Artisans and they are just beautiful. Tickets are $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00., cash or check only. The drawing for the baskets will be held Saturday, November 11 at 3:00 pm and you do not have to be present to win.
Admission is free. Cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover are accepted.

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