My Turn: Giving back to local charities - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

My Turn: Giving back to local charities

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There is something about the human spirit that compels many of us to help those in need.

Sometimes we need a terrible tragedy to get motivated.  The horrific images and stories coming out of New York and New Jersey have spurred many of us to donate.

Whether it's giving money to the American Red Cross or the many dozens of people locally who are collecting goods and shuttling them up north, there are countless examples of our neighbors stepping up to help.

Maybe it's because many of you have lived through past hurricane damage here.  You know first-hand what it's like.  It makes me proud to live in the same community with such selfless people.

But I also want to remind you that there is also great need here.  We should continue to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy in any way we can.  But there are also many wonderful local organizations raising funds and collecting goods to help those less fortunate living among us.

As we move into the holiday season, I encourage each of you to find a way to help those in need in our communities too.

That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at


Emailed comments from viewers:

In response to the recent airing of your My Turn, Your Turn piece:  Giving back to local charities, I would like to submit a response on behalf of our local American Red Cross  - Cape Fear Chapter.

It is true that in the aftermath of a large scale disaster, many contributions flow through the American Red Cross in support of relief efforts and the direct assistance we provide to disaster victims. The Red Cross is, after all, the leading non-profit relief organization in the country and mandated by Congressional Charter to provide disaster relief, though we don't receive federal funding to fulfill that mission.  We should remember that it is not a matter of if, but when, those same resources that are being mobilized for the folks in the northeast will be mobilized once again for a devastating disaster -- such as a hurricane -- on our own shores here in North Carolina, and America will rally to support us too.

It is equally important to understand that here at home in the Cape Fear area, our local Red Cross chapter also needs donations in support of the vital programs and services we provide in Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover and Pender counties.  We too are a local charity.  We support more than 550 area blood drives each year, facilitate emergency communications services to hundreds of locally based military members and their families, train thousands of community members in lifesaving skills such as CPR and first aid, and provide relief to our neighbors that lose everything to a home fire or other local disaster.  For us, the holiday season is a time to raise funds to support this critical work that enables us to meet needs in our own backyard.  It also a time when we see blood shortages, and increased home fires. 

Since Sandy made landfall in late October, many of our dedicated volunteers have been hard at work answering calls at our local chapter from hundreds of community members each day wanting to know how they can help to support relief efforts in the Northeast.  The majority of those callers are looking to donate canned goods, clothing, and household items that the Red Cross does not take.  So we have been redirecting these well-meaning folks to other non-profit organizations in the community, providing them with referrals to the United Way 2-1-1 call center, Salvation Army, Vintage Values, Goodwill, Southeastern Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, WARM, and countless other charities that can put these items to work right here at home.  That is part of being a team player in a network of local charities that are all working to benefit the greater good.

Lastly, I leave you with one more reminder of one of the wonderful things about the Red Cross…. we always honor donor intent.  So, if donors make a contribution that they intend for Sandy Relief, that is how the funds will be spent.  If donors make a donation in support of local programs and services, that is how the funds will be spent.  91 cents of every dollar donated directly supports American Red Cross programs and services, due in large part to the fact that more than 97 percent of our workforce are dedicated and trained volunteers.  And, the American Red Cross – down the street, across the country, and around the world – could not do all that we do without the generous support of our volunteers and donors.

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