Many opportunities during Nonprofit Awareness Month
For many families in Vance County, local nonprofits supply much needed material and emotional support.
The impact of nonprofits in the community is celebrated and recognized during Nonprofit Awareness Month throughout November.
In Vance County, there were 39 nonprofits with total revenues of more than $25,000 in fiscal year 2011, according to data from the N.C. Center for Nonprofits. These entities spent more than $124 million in fiscal year 2011, and supplied 1,200 jobs to the area.
The N.C. Center for Nonprofit reports that nonprofit employees comprised 11 percent of the total workforce in the state in 2011.
Many nonprofits in the county are not conducting any out-of-the ordinary activities. Instead, they tirelessly continue to give back through food drives, soup kitchens, and angel trees that require a great deal of support from able members of the community.
At Infinite Possibilities, Kanika Turrentine needs donations and help from volunteers for her organization’s second annual Christmas Giveaway on Dec. 21.
During last year’s Christmas event, Turrentine said she gave away 72 toys, 300 clothing items and 91 meals.
“It took a lot of people to wrap gifts, serve food and man the register,” she said.
Kanika’s mother, Shirley Turrentine, describes a child’s face lighting up like Christmas lights when he or she receives unexpected toys at the giveaway.
“There is so much joy, when these children are given gifts that their parents could not afford,” said Shirley Turrentine, of Davis Chapel Baptist Church. “People have so many things they don’t use and it could be a gift for someone else.”
The mission of Infinite Possibilities is to promote responsibility, growth and self-sufficiency among families headed by single mothers. In Vance County, an estimated 59 percent of children live in a single-parent home.
Turrentine said her organization often needs a van to transport clients and youth.
“We are seeking a more accessible office space that can accommodate large GED classes and skill building groups,” she wrote in an email. “We are always looking for permanent homes for homeless women with children for our Rapid Rehousing program.”
At the First Presbyterian Church in Henderson, Minister Keith Benze said the soup kitchen at his church every second Sunday of the month can always use more helping hands and food donations.
Since most feeding programs don’t operate on weekends, Benza said the church’s soup kitchen, called “SOME” for So Others May Eat, is especially important for the hungry and homeless in Henderson.
“We are looking for organizations or people to provide the food, cook the food, and serve it,” Benze said. “Sometimes, we have had people come cook and serve, while others may just supply the food. It’s whatever people can do.”
The church provides a hot meal at 12:15 p.m. on the second Sunday, and a bag lunch for food later in the day.
Benze also operates the FPC Shares program that supplies goods to groups in need.
“In October, we collected canned meat for Area Christians Together in Service, and in November we are collecting paper goods for Lifeline Outreach,” he said.
The basement of the First Presbyterian Church also serves as the Community Partners of Hope men’s shelter that is open from Nov. 1 until March 30. Shirley’s son, Charles Turrentine Jr., operates the men’s shelter.
Benze said there are not enough volunteers to keep it open all year long.
He said they also need people to bring breakfast and dinner for the shelter men every day.
The First Presbyterian Church partners with the Vance County Department of Social Services during its annual Christmas Cheer program, which allows community members to sponsor a child in foster care who may not receive presents on Christmas.
Sponsors purchase items like coats and clothes that the child needs but might not receive otherwise.
There are about 84 children currently in Vance County foster care, from 6 months old to 18 years old.
The First Presbyterian Church sponsors teenagers in foster care, which are usually hardest to match with sponsors.
“We work with social services to get an angel tree, and we put the tree in the back of our sanctuary,” Benze said. “People who want to provide gifts for teenagers in foster care take an angel off the tree with that child’s information and gift preferences.”
The Salvation Army also needs sponsors for its an angel tree.
Capt. Angie Langley, of the Salvation Army in Vance County, said parents from six counties already filled out an application to participate in the program.
“We help out social services and they send us some kids from their department,” she said.
Twanna Jones, director of ACTS, said her organization plans to stay open and feed on Thanksgiving Day this year.
ACTS will have lunch in the afternoon, as well as meals on wheels. Jones and her volunteers will also knock on doors in the neighborhood with turkey sandwiches and fruit to pass out to anyone needing an extra meal.
Jones said she wanted to step out of her comfort zone and help the community on a day she normally spends with family.
“My purpose is to serve and that’s what we want to do,” she said
But her service to others cannot exist without help from those who have something to give.
“This service changes the face of our community, when we come together to help people who don’t see any good in their lives,” she said. “They will look at life differently because we are showing them something different.”
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