WILMINGTON — There are nearly 400 people without permanent housing in the Brunswick, Pender, and New Hanover County areas, according to a 2017 report by the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness. The holiday season can be particularly difficult and, though volunteers are needed year-round, Thanksgiving is a crucial time for many area soup kitchens and shelters.
Below is a list of area organizations that offer volunteer opportunities for the holiday season and beyond.
First Fruit Ministries – First Fruit Ministries provides mentoring for homeless men, transition services for homeless women and families striving for permanent housing, community pantries and soup kitchens. It also has outreach programs to help provide the homeless with food on the street and in several unofficial homeless camps in wooded areas around Wilmington.
Senior Pastor Rick Stoker said First fruit Ministries increases its activity and outreach around the holidays and is always looking for extra volunteers. Interested volunteers can find a weekly schedule of events and register online. The First Fruit campus is located at 2750 Vance St. and can be reached at (910) 794-9656.
Good Shepherd Center – The center relies on volunteer work to run both its overnight shelter and soup kitchen operations. There is no minimum – or maximum – limit to volunteering, but the center does require potential volunteers to fill out an application and attend a 30-minute orientation process.
According to Community Coordinator Liz Carbone, the Center’s soup kitchen can use “pretty much any non-perishable item,” but in particular has a need for bottled water, salt, pepper and spices, flour and sugar, and cooking oil. The night shelter is in need of sandwich bags, chap stick, cough drops, blankets, sweaters and sweatshirts, Clorox or other bleach wipes, and new toys for any age range.
Interested volunteers should contact Carbone at 910-763-4424 (extension 101) for more information and a volunteer packet. The Good Shepherd Center is located at 811 Martin St., Wilmington. Information is also available at the Good Shepherd website.
LINC – Homelessness is not the only issue in the Cape Fear Area. Leading Into New Communities is a Wilmington-based program that works to help area men recently released from the correctional system by providing therapy, education, health and employment assistance. They also provide youth educational and outreach programs in a further attempt to break the cycle of incarceration. LINC offers numerous volunteer opportunities, including youth outreach, adult rehabilitation programs, transitional living facility and urban farm.
Information about volunteering and donating to LINC, as well as the application form for interested volunteers, can be found on LINC’s website.
Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard – Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is a non-profit organization, founded in 1985, that serves as both a community pantry and soup kitchen. It is completely volunteer-run and neither affiliated with nor discriminates against any religious organization; their sole mission is feeding Wilmington’s hungry.
Located at 315 Red Cross St. in downtown Wilmington, Mother Hubbard’s is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. It is closed on Thursdays and Sunday, as was when inclement weather closes New Hanover County schools.
Mother Hubbard’s can be reached at (910) 762-2199. You can find information about volunteering opportunities and a list of helpful food and pantry items to donate on the Mother Hubbard’s website, which also has information on making tax-deductible financial donations.
United Way – The United Way provides a wide range of services including schools, shelters, senior centers, food banks, low-income neighborhoods and more. The United Way also works with community organizers to help support and staff locally initiated volunteer projects. Their website provides a volunteer portal which matches individual skills and interests with local community projects.
Wilmington Hope Center – The center offers daytime services, including food, shelter and healthcare for Wilmington’s homeless. Three days a week it offers a community meal and accepts both food and financial donations. It also offers opportunities for volunteering at its community breakfasts and day time services. The Wilmington Hope Center focuses on building relationships with individuals, and encourages a particular approach in terms of mindset and even how volunteers talk about and to those being helped by the center.
Those interested in a more personal level of volunteering should see what to expect when working with the center. The center is located in the Fifth Avenue Methodist Church at 409 S 5th Ave., and can contacted through their website.
Wilmington Interfaith Hospitality Center – The center organizes over 40 local congregations to host families and provide food and support services. The center has a support staff that helps Wilmington’s homeless community acquire employment, healthcare, housing and the other support to become independent. The center provides opportunities for volunteering year round, in particular it looks for volunteers to cook meals for area families in need. Volunteers typically cook for groups of nine or 10.
The center works through congregations across town and its support services are located at 4938 Oleander Dr. It can be reached at (910) 769-4730 for more information about volunteering time, supplies, food or money, contact the center at 910-769-4730 or or through the Center’s website.
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