Changes, Giving and Growing
WBM december 2020
Left to right, Toni Barrows, Phillip Garriss
and Angel Echevarria load groceries into cars
during Global River Church’s weekly Thursday
drive-through free food pantry.
Turning Pointe Dance Company provides enter-tainment
before dinner is served at the First Fruit
annual holiday homeless dinner.
Donations ebb and flow. Most agencies agree that giving has remained
better than expected, at least at the start of the pandemic.
“Folks have already been wonderful,” Knight says of the Good Shepherd
The organization’s Facebook page shows sock drives, a Bat Mitzvah food drive,
and other giving projects that have the community donating in new ways.
“There is never a day in the year that we can’t use a can of green beans or
tomatoes. We love fresh produce too,” Knight says. “We can use gas cards
because we do a lot of transporting folks to medical appointments. Even a $10
gift card is an easy add on when you’re already at the grocery store. It’s not
always a $1,000 check; even small gifts make a difference.”
Still, there is concern for meeting needs down the road. Agencies might
have to cut more services that low-income and homeless people rely on.
Other agencies have added staff to handle grant and federal funding.
“We have had to cancel virtually all of our fundraisers,” Knight says. “But I
think this year, even modest donations will help us with our safety net pro-grams.
We had people send us their stimulus checks because they felt we
needed it more than they did. It is a testament to how creative people are in
their giving and the sacrifices they make to help people.”
Good Shepherd is also working with the eviction prevention program, which has brought new funding.
“We are working with city and state agencies to work with eviction prevention for specifically pandemic-related crisis,” Knight says.
“One downside of all that money is it is almost exclusively ‘pass-through’ funds. Those dollars go right back out to landlords and utility
First Fruit’s Stoker agrees about the generosity of people in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach and New Hanover County at the onset of
the pandemic, but donations have dipped in a stagnant economy.
“After people saw how real COVID was and saw that shifting our way of doing things was expensive, the finances seemed to come
with it,” he says. “There was a good amount of giving at that time. A lot of businesses are hurting or failing, people don’t have the sur-plus,
so giving has gone way down.”
People are weary of the pandemic and lockdown
“I think we’ve done pretty well considering how
horrible this thing has been. And that part encour-ages
me. We’re still America and it is amazing how
much ground we can cover if we have to do it,”
When the virus subsides, volunteers will be
needed to help provide services for the most vulner-able
in the county.
“The ideal volunteer is anybody. We have a lot of
need in the kitchen, paperwork, stand out with a clip-board
and see how many people are coming, inven-tory
of groceries. We have a guy that mows the yard
who is about 400 years old,” Stoker says with a laugh.
There is a myriad of ways to donate to worthwhile
agencies in the county. Visit websites and Facebook
official pages for online donations and to see the
year-round Wish Lists. Also look for The Salvation
Army kettles in town.