Wednesday, April 17, 2024

How to help feed a local family this Thanksgiving [Free read]

Local nonprofits are accepting donations to help feed families over the holidays. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON—The season of giving couldn’t come quick enough.

2020 has been a troublesome year for nonprofits, with hardly any fundraising events to get them through and scarce opportunities for volunteerism due to gathering restrictions, all while hunger is on the rise. Food insecurity is up 38% across central and eastern North Carolina, according to Feeding America.

Here are some places that could use your help ahead of Thanksgiving.

Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC

About 94,000 residents, including 27,320 children and 24,735 seniors, live in food-insecure homes in Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties combined.

To help these households, monetary donations are ideal, as they allow flexibility in the case of supply chain shortages, which have stemmed from the pandemic, explained Jennifer Caslin, marketing and project manager for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Through the end of December, every dollar donated online will be matched. 

However, the Food Bank also appreciates physical donations. The most-needed items include canned veggies, soups, pasta, rice, beans, cereal, peanut butter, as well as hygiene and cleaning products.

“We’ve been trying our best to make sure we have shelf-stable and ready-to-eat items that will last folks a little bit longer so they maybe won’t have to leave the house as often,” Caslin said.

The Food Bank also accepts child and infant products, such as wipes, diapers and Pedialyte, or individually-packaged kids snacks like fruit cups, granola bars, juice boxes or crackers. For a full list, check here.

Donors are encouraged to contribute seasonal goodies as well, such as stuffing, canned cranberry sauce or canned pumpkin. “Those are always special items to have during the holiday season,” Caslin said.

Drop off donations at 1314 Marstellar St., Wilmington, NC 28401.

Another convenient way to support a family is to purchase a $5 box at a Food Lion store, now through Dec. 15. The boxes contain several staple foods and are taken directly to the Food Bank.

Since gatherings are still restricted, the Food Bank is holding a virtual version of their annual Street Turkey event, which helps restock the pantry’s shelves during this time of the year when the inventory is depleting. Donate online until Nov. 29 or mail a check, payable to The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd has continued throughout the pandemic to protect the homeless, despite social distancing restrictions, making that feat increasingly difficult.

After successfully lowering its numbers in the shelter, Good Shepherd is placing more emphasis on housing people and preventing evictions.

“Now we’re dealing with them when they’re on the verge of becoming homeless and doing everything we can to keep them from falling into our system,” Kyle Abrams, assistant director, said.

To support them in their efforts, consider a monetary donation. Audi Cape Fear is matching up to $5,000 of Giving Tuesday gifts, which should help the center reach its $15,000 goal to rehouse five families for the holidays.

Good Shepherd also operates a soup kitchen and distributes free food weekly on Wednesdays from 12-1 p.m. at its main location, 811 Martin St. in Wilmington. To help with those events, consider donating some of the following items: breakfast cereal, grits and oatmeal in bulk or individual packets, coffee, pasta and sauce, canned soup, canned vegetables, salad dressing, hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, seasonings and spices.

Thanksgiving foods – hams, turkeys, canned vegetables, instant mashed potatoes, yams, potatoes, rolls and more – should be dropped off by Tuesday afternoon.

Donations are accepted at the center Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Nourish NC

This year NourishNC is offering a “take and bake” Thanksgiving dinner to the kids in its program. People can sponsor one of the turkey-day spreads for $25.

The to-go meal includes a foil pan packaged with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cream of mushroom soup, cornbread mix, apple sauce and green beans, as well as a 12-pound turkey, produce, recipes and a stick of butter.

“It’s literally everything they need to make it happen and have the dignity of having that in their own home,” Steve McCrossan, executive director, said.

There are also plenty of other volunteer opportunities to search through online.

“The holiday season’s a great time to be involved, but we do this all year round,” McCrossan added. “So pick up that phone and check on our website in January when interest tends to wane a little bit. We need help year-round.”

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army of Cape Fear is seeking donations of canned foods this Thanksgiving.

Contributions can be dropped off at any location, including the thrift stores and shelter at 820 N. 2nd St. in Wilmington.

The organization is also asking that people be on the lookout for the red kettle around Christmas. The funds those folks outside your local grocery store collect stay in the Cape Fear and help the Salvation Army kick off 2021. People can also donate online anytime.

“Those donations are what empowers the Salvation Army to continue the level of the assistance that we like to provide to our Cape Fear communities,” Mark Craddock, corps officer, said.

First Fruit Ministries

First Fruit Ministries is in need of new or used coats, tents, blankets, sleeping bags and toiletries to provide to people sleeping outside. Donors can also contribute financially, which assists with a range of initiatives.

“We do have quite an increase in demands,” CEO Rick Stoker said. “People that are not working full time or working at all during this time, they are starting to come by and ask for food.”

Drop off items at 2750 Vance Street in Wilmington, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The ministry is also seeking volunteers in November and December. Register online here.

Send tips or comments to Alexandria Sands at

Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at or on Twitter @alexsands_

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