Season of Giving

When faced with the decision to give money or time to a charity, the first question on people’s minds is which charity to choose. Brunswick County is blessed to have many charitable organizations that give their time to the less fortunate. Preparing for the holiday season, Southport Magazine has given the spotlight to three local charities deserving of a second look.

Enhancing the community one child at a time

“Volunteers are always needed!” Carolina Cowan, former 2013-2014 Civitan Club president and current club treasurer eagerly told me when I inquired about volunteering opportunities for the SE Brunswick Civitan Club. “We are always looking for new members to become Civitans and help make a difference in our community.”

Members of the SE Brunswick Civitan Club, from left to right: Jennifer Moore, First Citizen's Bank; Scott Gilland, Hampton Inn; Carolina Cowan, Strings and Beyond; Kim Felts, First Community Bank; Megan Canny,  Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce; Frank Iler, NC House of Representatives. Courtesy photo

Members of the SE Brunswick Civitan Club, from left to right: Jennifer Moore, First Citizen’s Bank; Scott Gilland, Hampton Inn; Carolina Cowan, Strings and Beyond; Kim Felts, First Community Bank; Megan Canny, Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce; Frank Iler, NC House of Representatives. Courtesy photo

Back in 2007, The SE Brunswick Civitan Club was born when approached by members of the Wilmington Civitan Club to create a local chapter in the Southport and Oak Island area. “Our club began with approximately 42 original charter members and many of those members are still active today,” Cowan said.

Each Civitan Club has the honor and privilege of helping those with developmental disabilities in their communities. “Because the primary focus of Civitan as a whole is helping people with developmental disabilities, the SE Brunswick Civitan Club decided to narrow that focus specifically on these children, whatever their disability may be,” said Cowan. “Each year our club volunteers with the Brunswick County Special Olympics and our primary focus is the Civitan Apple Project.”

Developed in July 2013, the Civitan Apple Project provides iPads for educational purposes in the EC classrooms in the Brunswick County area. “When we reached out to some of the EC teachers in our area and asked them what we could do to help they came up with a lot of ideas, but one teacher mentioned how iPads are becoming such a valuable teaching tool in the EC classrooms,” Cowan expressed. “This spoke directly to so many of the members of our club since we are so driven by technology in our professional careers.”

The Brunswick Civitan Club then contacted Director of EC Classrooms Melissa Quinlan and Director of IT Acacia Dixon concerning the iPads and the idea was a success. They began going over what the special needs of these children were and how certain apps on the iPad could cater to these needs. “To date we have placed 10 iPads in 10 different classrooms throughout Brunswick County and the classrooms are selected based on need and determined by Quinlan and Dixon.”

The schools that received iPads include: South Brunswick Middle, Supply Elementary, Belville Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Town Creek Elementary, Shallotte Middle, Leland Middle, West Brunswick High, Virginia Williamson Elementary and Waccamaw Middle. The Civitan members actually deliver each iPad to the classrooms of the schools that are chosen and take the time to be with the students and learn from them. “The experience is extremely fulfilling and heartwarming and the gratitude that we receive from the children and teachers truly motivates our desire to give more,” Cowan said.

The SE Brunswick Civitan Club is always accepting donations for their children and current projects. Checks can be made out to SE Brunswick Civitan, PO Box 10261, Southport, NC 28461. They also accept tangible donations during the year for their silent auction fundraising events. On November 8th the Civitans are hosting their “Adopt a Highway” cleanup beginning at 8 a.m., located at Robert Ruark Road, and they have teamed up with the local Boy Scouts and are always looking for more help. The SE Brunswick Civitan Club meets every first and third Thursday of the month at Bella Cucina at noon and encourages people to come and join their lunch meetings. Bella Cucina is located at 5177 Southport-Supply Road SE.

Caring for the uninsured and low-income residents of Brunswick County

“It is a privilege to be a New Hope patient not a right.” The compassionate caregivers who bring their skills, time and heart to New Hope Clinic not only live by this motto on a daily basis but truly believe it.

Started in 1998, New Hope Clinic is a volunteer-driven 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It is the promise for the uninsured to have a chance to receive medical care. They serve the community with a small staff and over 150 volunteers that include physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and an administrative staff. In 2013 1,112 patients were served, 415 new patients came into the clinic, and 14,466 30-day prescriptions were given to patients at no cost.

The clinical services that New Hope offers include: medical diagnosis and treatment, dental (extractions only). The services that require a referral from an NHC provider are: chiropractic, dermatology, diabetic retinopathy screening, medical eye care, podiatry, and pharmacy. “The needs of the clinic are volunteers with a variety of experiences,” said Executive Director Sheila Roberts. “We need healthcare professionals with an active or retired license or those with a healthcare background who have a desire to help their community in other roles such as receptionists, data entry clerks, and volunteers to help with marketing and fundraisers.”

In order to receive these free services the criteria are that the patient must be a resident of Brunswick County, have no insurance, no Medicaid, no Medicare, their income must be within 150% of Federal Poverty Guidelines and must be 18 years or older. The clinic also offers Diabetes Self-Management Education classes that are open to the community twice per month. Call the clinic at (910) 845-5333 to register.

Volunteer job descriptions at New Hope Clinic can be found on their website at Volunteer opportunities are anywhere from receptionist duties and clerical support to registered nurses and physicians that deal with primary care or specialties. Residents also can choose to donate their money as well. “We depend on donations from the community to keep our doors open and provide services!” Roberts explained. Donations can be made in person at the clinic or by mail to 201 W. Boiling Spring Road, Southport, NC 28461. One even can give a gift in honor or memory of someone. The donation form can also be found on the website and there is a secure way to donate online.

New Hope Clinic’s upcoming events include a concert series put on by ListenUp Brunswick County that will benefit the clinic. The concert will be held on Friday, December 12th at 7:30 p.m. at Holden Beach Chapel Fellowship Hall (107 Rothschild St., Holden Beach). For more information and to purchase tickets visit On Tuesday, December 30th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the clinic will be hosting a silent auction fundraiser at the Bald Head Island Club on Bald Head Island. Admission is free and the event will include heavy hors d’ouvres and live music. More information will be posted soon on the New Hope Clinic’s website at

A non-profit organization believes if you comfort the feet you comfort the soul

In the dark of night during a snowy winter storm, Theresa Tese had an epiphany. Snuggled up in her New York apartment, warming herself by a roaring fire, she happened to glance down at her feet that were adorned with comfy socks. “I was simply taking the time to show gratitude for the fact that I was comfortable and warm,” Tese told me. “A chord struck inside me about how blessed I was to have warm feet.”

Comfort Socks benefit the homeless with warmth and hope. Courtesy photo

Comfort Socks benefit the homeless with warmth and hope. Courtesy photo

For the past 18 months Tese had been praying for an answer from God about what path her life needed to take and it was that winter night she received her answer: socks. “God spoke to me and told me that I needed to bring the same comfort of warm feet to others who did not have the luxury of warm, comfy socks.” This is when Comfort Socks was born.

Comfort Socks is a 501(c)3 public charity that provides socks to the homeless and other non-profit organizations across the United States. By visiting the website at visitors can learn how to donate socks or money donations to Comfort Socks to help the homeless. The type of socks that the non-profit suggests to donate are new men’s crew length or tube length, cotton or a mostly cotton blend. All colors are accepted, but white is preferred. “I encourage others to start their own sock drives,” Tese told me. “People who donate their time find that holding personal sock drives is so rewarding. It takes special people to do this act of kindness and the end result is like nothing you have ever experienced.”

One simple email to Tese at is the first step to start your sock drive. Tese sends a sock drive packet and walks you through the steps. But for those who would rather give to the cause, a current sock drive that is underway is hosted by Yvonne Reynolds at Backwater Farm Market located at 3025 Backwater Trail in Bolivia, NC. Visitors can drop socks off at this location and know they will be helping a person in need have warm feet this holiday season.

Tese works out of her home with the business of Comfort Socks. “Honestly the socks are in and out so fast that there really isn’t a need to have a warehouse or building,” Tese said.

Tese travels to local organizations and speaks about Comfort Socks and the need to help and comfort our community’s homeless population. Lesley Bennett, who is a part of Comfort Socks’ advisory board, heard Tese speak at a function and was moved to help. “I just sat there and cried—but a good cry,” Bennett explained. “I truly don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. When you see someone who has such passion and love for people she does not even know it really is life changing.”

October 22nd Comfort Socks celebrated its sixth birthday. Tese is humbled by the growth Comfort Socks has seen but continues to thank God for blessing her with the ability to have an organization that allows her to give back. “It’s not about me,” Tese said. “It’s not Theresa’s Socks. I am just merely a giver of hope.”

One Response to Season of Giving

  1. What a honor it is to serve along side of so many caring people and organizations. Thank you, Southport Magazine, for allowing Comfort Socks a place in this issue. We appreciate all you do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine