If Thomasville realized the need ...
|THOMASVILLE, NC: Fairgrove Family Resource Ctr. is located on Myrtle Drive. Director Terri Nelson needs help to complete the center's Gifts from the Heart project. ......PHOTO: DON DAVIS, JR.; The High Point Enterprise|
More than 300 children in need of clothing for Christmas were referred to Fairgrove Family Resource Center through it's Gifts from the Heart program. More than 100 remain unadopted and may not receive items of necessity or enjoyment if the Chair City community does not step up. "We're struggling trying to help the kids with the greatest need," said Terri Nelson, executive director of Fairgrove Family Resource Center. "They're all Thomasville City School children, Brier Creek, Fair Grove, all of our local kids. Every single child in here was referred to us by the schools. Each shopping list identifies what that child wears and what their wants are. There is wrapping paper inside, so the parent can just come and get the presents to wrap." Nelson has spearheaded this project for the last 11 years - Fairgrove has been doing it for more than 15 - and believes if individuals from Thomasville truly realize the need, her phone would ring off the hook.
Unfortunately, little time remains. Long before children can discover gifts under the tree, purchases must be completed. If the parents of any of the sponsored children cannot be reached via telephone, the Resource Center delivers the presents to the local schools for distribution.
The Resource Center requests that Gifts from the Heart purchases or donations be made by Dec. 10.
To sponsor a child or more information, call Nelson at 472-7217. To make a donation toward the effort, mail a check to Fairgrove Family Resource Center at 159 Myrtle Drive, Thomasville, NC 27360.
"If people don't want to go and do the shopping,: some bring the money and we do the shopping," Nelson said. "I've been doing this for 11 years, and I've never seen anything like it. The program has to be completed before school dismisses for Christmas. We don't want a child to wake up on Christmas morning without gifts. I am really worried about these children not getting what they need."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food pantries need help this holiday season
Thanksgiving and Christmas usually represent the most generous season of the year. Concern is mounting, however, that food pantries in Davidson County have become forgotten amidst the holiday bustle.
Fairgrove Family Resource Center and Cooperative Community Ministry lack sufficient food for those who need assistance. Grants and other funding sources are essential to the Thomasville organizations, but greater support is needed from caring individuals who want to make a difference.
"Thomasville Christian Cathedral brought us meals, and then we had a local school bring us more meals, so we've been able to give out some Thanksgiving dinners out we haven't had in the past," said Terri Nelson, executive director. "The problem is that we're going through over 20,000 pounds of food a month, and we can't keep the food coming in as quickly as it's going out."
To date this calendar year, Fairgrove Family Resource Center has collected 194,169 pounds of food.
Cooperative Community Ministry also hopes that more individuals will donate.
"We're doing all right, but we must have people to continue supporting people with food and financial assistance." said CCM Executive Director Stephanie Strickland.
CCM hopes to secure food donations during Winterfest, which runs through December. Collection containers are located at the Thomasville Parks and Recreation tennis courts on W. Main Street, where a temporary ice skating rink is located.
Both agencies face a huge obstacle. A major source of food - Second Harvest Food Bank - is in peril.
Last year, more than 50 percent of the food Fairgrove Family Resource Center distributed to more than 1,000 hungry Thomasville families on a monthly basis came from Second Harvest.
"Second Harvest's volumes have been dramatically cut due to state and federal budget cuts," Nelson said. "So you're looking at 50 percent less in one category of government food. We're feeding more people with less food and lower monetary donations, which are critical for us. We don't have the supply to meet the demand."
According to the most recent Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap study (2011), 28.3 percent of children in the county are at risk of hunger and lack sufficient food to meet their nutritional needs. Nelson says the need has only grown over the last two years.
"In Davidson County, one in every three children is hungry," she said. "It feels like a sinking black hole, that we're being ignored. Davidson County is being ignored."
Food items needed include beef stew, chicken and dumplings, peanut butter, oatmeal, canned fruits and vegetables, rice and milk. Freezers at the pantries are barren.
To help or for more information, call Fairgrove Family Resource Center at 472-7217 or Cooperative Community Ministry at 476-1842.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or email@example.com.
|Representatives of local food pantries say they rely on community donations to continue their mission to feed the community's hungry. First Presbyterian Church presented four local charitable organizations with the proceeds from the eighth annual Chili Cook-Off. Pastor Mike Lamm, left, presented checks for $1,060 to Peggy Sparks of Cooperative Community Ministries, Terri Nelson of Fairgrove Family Resource Center and Marquis Ramsey of Daishin Buddhist Temple. His Laboring Few Ministry also received a check for $1,060. Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center's Heartburn Treatment Center, Uwharrie Chair Co., Food Lion and Wendy's sponsored this year's cookoff.|
NOW: Nutrition On Weekends. This is our new logo for our weekend feeding program. For the last 6 years, FGFRC has been providing a pack full of nutritious food for children from area schools to take home for weekend during the school year. The feeding programs are set up in Brier Creek, Fair Grove, Thomasville Primary and Pilot Elementary schools. Due to sponsor budget cuts, 50 children will go hungry every weekend at Brier Creek Elementary School and 10 at Pilot Elementary School without your help. $200 will feed a child every weekend for the whole school year. We need your help to be able to feed these children. We don't want hungry children. All donations are tax deductible. For more information, call 336-472-7217.
Child Hunger: A look at the difficult issue of child hunger in our state
1 in 5 children goes hungry in our state, in some areas 1 in 3 children are food insecure. Heather Burgiss visits the food banks of Eastern & Western North Carolina, as well as several regional organizations, to learn what programs are in place to help children & families in need.
The following video is an eye-opening report on child hunger in North Carolina and the Thomasville area. This report aired on the program NC Now on UNC-TV Friday, August 2nd.
In plain sight, poverty in America
After jobs move out,
hunger takes root in factory town
Wed Jul 3, 2013 9:01 AM EDT
By Spencer Bakalar, NBC News Contributor
Cliff Lambeth, right, checks individual bags to make sure each contains a sandwich, juice, fruit and a dessert for the bag lunches He Cares distributes.
It is difficult to ignore the six abandoned and crumbling factories that dot the landscape surrounding Main Street in Thomasville, N.C. Less than a half-mile away from the faded storefronts, children race in the shadows of broken window panes, past the empty lumberyards that once brought the town to life.
More than 100 years ago, Thomasville was the furniture industry hub of North Carolina. It was the type of town that created generational jobs where grandfathers, fathers and sons could each work and prosper, knowing that the opportunity for employment would be there for years to come.
"It's all a lot of people ever knew," said Mike Turner, founder of He Cares, an outreach ministry in Thomasville that distributes bag lunches and food boxes to the community.
Mike Turner assembles sandwiches to be distributed in the next few hours. Before all of the 300 sandwiches were made, the volunteers ran out of meat, causing them to go back into the sandwiches and cut every slice in half.
In the past 15 years, however, the town of roughly 27,000 people has lost more than 5,000 manufacturing jobs. Companies like century-old Thomasville Furniture Industries, Inc., Duracell, and others downsized, relocated or closed.
Edward McClatchen gives bags to a family in the poorest apartment complex in Thomasville. "This is the last stop before the streets," says Mike Turner.
From 2007-2010 alone, unemployment spiked from 5.5 to 13.5 percent. Today, with an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, Thomasville still ranks higher than the state and nationwide averages.
Mike Turner was laid off in 2005 from Thomasville Furniture, but found factory work in nearby town, much like many of his former co-workers.
"All of those guys were struggling," said Turner. "Some of them didn't even know how to read or write. Furniture was all they knew."
Edward McClatchen, left, and Mike Turner, right, pray with Frank Hill, center. Frank lives alone, but looks forward to seeing Turner every week. "No matter when I see him, no matter what is happening to him, he is always smiling," said Turner.
The town's economic hardship has since translated into a hunger problem. It touches those who cannot find work, those who are sick, single-parent households, traditional households, the elderly, and children.
And despite the best efforts of Turner, and other local organizations, sparse food donations, unapproved grants, and inadequate funding have made it difficult to provide enough food for the growing number of needy families.
Changing face of hunger
Terri Nelson has seen a huge increase in the number of people coming to Thomasville's Fairgrove Family Resource Center: from 50 people a month to more than 1,000 in the decade she has worked there.
"The face of hunger has changed," she said. "Children are most affected because of the economy. Their parents can't find jobs, and if they do find jobs, they work as hard as they can and never make enough."
It's a feeling Jennifer Beck Powell knows well. A 34-year-old single mom with four kids, Powell lives in Thomasville, where the grim employment prospects forced her to look elsewhere.
Like Turner, she found another job 10 miles away, in High Point.
Jennifer takes a break during her shift.
Every morning she wakes up at 4 a.m. to take her children to school so she can arrive at Swaim Furniture on time for her 6 a.m. shift.
At the end of the day, after 11 hours on her feet, she picks up her kids from daycare and goes home to help them with homework and cook. Because Powell often works through her 10-minute lunch break, dinner is the first big meal of the day.
After dinner, Caleb, 11, Abriana, 10, and Macy Jeffrey, 16, wait on Jennifer to help them with homework.
Sleep doesn't come until close to 11 p.m., and the next day begins five hours later.
Living paycheck to paycheck, with inconsistent child support from the fathers of her children, leaves little leftover for necessities like food.
Jennifer takes a quick break after getting home from a workday.
'Always breaking even'
Prior to working at Swaim Furniture, Powell was making $10 an hour. Her pay has increased to $13 an hour, but because of this, her food stamps have been reduced by more than $200 a month.
She receives lunch bags every Saturday and food boxes once a month through Turner's nonprofit, He Cares. But it's not always enough, and by the end of the month the food supply is running low.
"Now that it's summertime it's even harder,' said Powell. "This week I have the whole week off. All the kids are home and we have no food or any money to even do.simple things like go swim at the lake where it's free. It still takes gas to get there and I can't take a bunch of kids somewhere with no food, drinks or snacks for them."
Jacobie Powell pieces together his dinner while playing with his cars
The Powells are just one family among millions across the U.S. who cannot seem to break the cycle of poverty and hunger.
"For a few years I really had no idea where I was going to get food for my kids," Powell said. "I'm thankful for my new job, but I can never get ahead. I'm always breaking even."
Because she is overdue on daycare payments, Jennifer negotiates with the daycare to see how much of her current paycheck she has to give up.
Joshua Gutierrez, 11, races with Juisten Anderson through their front yard. Gutierrez and Anderson live across the street from the former Thomasville Furniture lumber yard, long out of use and falling down.
I am very grateful for the service and programs provided by Fairgrove Family Resource Center. They have provided my family with invaluable information that benefits us in so many ways. I think many families I know would benefit from taking parenting classes.