The holiday season is fast approaching with Christmas decorations littering the aisles of stores and festive music already tinkling on the radio.
Among the festivities and parades this season, the community can expect to see local community members actively working to spread the joy of giving. Non-profit organizations in Onslow County are commencing holiday fundraisers and drives to help individuals and families in need.
Christmas Cheer, a well-known holiday drive within the community, is beginning to accept donations of toys, clothing, food, and other necessities, especially for those affected by Hurricane Florence.
“Many of the families that were economically challenged before the storm lost everything, including personal and household items,” Theo McClammy, the executive director of Onslow Community Outreach, said. “So, families are looking towards us to help this holiday season.”
McClammy stated that last year Christmas Cheer received over 1,200 applications helping an estimated total of 5,000 people. This year, due to the storm, it is expected that they will receive an additional 300 applications.
Staff Sgt. William Gillespie, the Toys for Tots Coordinator, also anticipates a bigger need this year because of the hurricane - but he’s seen an outpouring of support from other regions in the state.
“We’re getting calls from Raleigh and another outer county, that they want to help our community in our time of need,” Gillespie said.
Another big event in the community is the Festival of Trees, which is an annual event hosted by Onslow Caregivers. All donations from the Festival of Trees go towards medicine, medical supplies, housing, and any other primarily needs identified by the staff of Onslow County Home Health and Hospice.
The Festival of Trees is scheduled to take place the weekend of Nov. 17, but, according to Marge Zima, board member of Onslow Caregivers, they are in need of assistance for the event.
“Usually it’s a big event every year,” Zima said. “But we are currently short on volunteers and behind on donors because of the hurricane.”
According to Zima, there are also in need of donations for their silent auction and are accepting anything over $50.
This holiday season, especially with the passing of Hurricane Florence, the community is being called upon to help their neighbors and to spread the joy and peace.
“Without the kindness and benevolence of community members, we wouldn’t be able to help those children,” McClammy said.
Here are a few holiday fundraisers and drives occurring around the community:
- Christmas Cheer: Onslow Community Outreach is beginning to accept toys, clothing, food, and monetary donations for Christmas Cheer up until Christmas Day. All donations will be given right back to those in need within the community. Please drop off all donations to the Future Onslow Community Outreach Services Center, 1210 Hargett Street, Jacksonville, or mail donations and correspondence to P.O. Box 4, Jacksonville, NC 28541. For more information, including how to volunteer, visit onslowco.org.
- Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child: Operation Christmas Child is accepting gift-filled shoe-boxes to give to children in need around the world. They will be accepting filled shoe-boxes at New River Baptist Association, 2734 Commerce Road, Jacksonville, from Nov. 12-19. For more information, contact New River Baptist at 910-358-3829 or visit samaritanspurse.org.
- Red Cross Holiday Gift Wrap: The Red Cross will begin their annual Holiday Gift Wrap at Jacksonville Mall, 375 Western Blvd., on Nov. 23 until mid-December. Any and all donations are accepted. Donations help to assist the community when disaster strikes. For more information visit redcross.org.
- Toys for Tots: The Marine Toys for Tots is accepting toy donations at several drop-off locations throughout the community up until the the day before Christmas. All toy donations will be given to children in need within the local community. Donations are being accepted at: Carolina Psychological Health Services, through Dec. 14, 1703 Country Club Road, Suite 204, Jacksonville; Outback Steakhouse, through Dec. 24, 1045 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Guild Gaming, Nov. 10-Dec. 22, 155 Brynn Marr Road, Suite 700, Jacksonville; Harris Jewelry, through Dec. 15, 341 Jacksonville Mall; Don Williamson Nissan, through Dec. 13, 310 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; National Dodge Chrysler Jeep, through Dec. 14, 2223 N Marine Blvd., Jacksonville; National Subaru, through Dec. 14, 2400 N Marine Blvd., Jacksonville; National Volkswagen, through Dec. 14, 2406 N Marine Blvd., Jacksonville; Navy Federal Credit Union, through Dec. 10, 1171 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Mission BBQ, Nov. 12-Dec. 1, 1638 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Five Below, through Dec. 14, 1335 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Walgreens, through Dec. 14, 359 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Extreme Outfitters, through Dec. 14, 102 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Mi Cabana, through Dec. 14, 1153 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Clean Eatz, through Dec. 14, 1843 Lejeune Blvd., Jacksonville; Hot Topic, through Dec. 14, 315 Jacksonville Mall; Sears, through Dec. 14, 344 Jacksonville Mall; Giggles Drop-In Childcare, through Dec. 20, 1250 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Brynn Marr Apartments, Nov. 5-Dec. 20, 301 Village Drive, Jacksonville; TownePlace Suites, through Dec. 7, 400 NW Circle, Jacksonville; PetSmart, through Dec. 23, 1335 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Marine Chevrolet, Nov. 26-Dec. 15, 1408 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Dr. Jose I. Arauz, through Dec. 20, 200 Doctors Drive, Suite N., Jacksonville; Century 21 Sweyer & Associates/Advantage Gold Realty, through Dec. 10, 301-C Western Blvd., Jacksonville; Semper-Fi Guns, through Dec. 25, 413 Western Blvd., Jacksonville; and Armageddon Armory, through Dec. 23, 2417 N. Marine Blvd., Jacksonville.
- Salvation Army Red Kettle: The Salvation Army Red Kettles will be appearing within various locations in community starting Nov. 16 until the end of December. All monetary donations will be given to support local services and given back to community members who are recovering from personal disasters. For more information, please visit redkettlevolunteer.org
- Wreaths Across America: Help place a wreath on every grave site at Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery by purchasing a sponsorship. One individual wreath costs $15 and can be purchased through wreathsacrossamerica.org. Wreaths can be purchased up until Nov. 21 with the laying of the wreaths occurring on Dec. 15 at noon.
- Food Lion Holidays Without Hunger: Food Lion is partnering with Feeding America to donate food boxes to the local food bank. Food Lion is selling each food box for $5, while supplies last, in hopes of providing 500 million meals by the end of 2020. They are also accepting cash donations at the end of checkout. Food Lion locations throughout Onslow County are participating: 2040 Wilmington Hwy #13, Jacksonville; 2200 Gum Branch Road, Jacksonville; 104 Branchwood Shopping Center, Jacksonville; 461 Western Blvd #128, Jacksonville; 861 Piney Green Road, Jacksonville; 175 Freedom Way, Jacksonville; 1409 W. Corbett Ave., Swansboro; 9007 Richlands Hwy, Richlands; and 965 Old Folkstone Road, Sneads Ferry.For more information, please visit foodlion.com/feeds