In the Lake Norman region, an assortment of service agencies and nonprofits remain active throughout the year offering multiple forms of assistance to those who need it. The various programs provide food, clothing and other supplies as well as access to information, medical care and professional advice. And while the groups work to make local lives better every day, the holiday season is traditionally a time when their importance is enhanced and their services are in higher demand.
What they do and how to help
The list of regional agencies is extensive, but here's a closer look at a few, including ways area residents can pitch in to provide support.
Emergency Food Pantry
The Huntersville Emergency Food Pantry is part of the regional Loaves & Fishes network that focuses on providing basic nutrition for families in need. The pantry is located inside Huntersville United Methodist Church, 14005 Stumptown Road.
A team of local administrators and more than 90 volunteers help with the logistics of keeping food pantry shelves stocked. And pantry personnel work directly with referred clients to put together meal plans and pick out items. The pantry is open 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday so clients can complete scheduled grocery shopping trips.
Wanda Kerns is one of the pantry supervisors and said the goal is to offer the basics needed to combat hunger. The local pantry gets some supplies from Loaves & Fishes headquarters in Charlotte, Kerns said, and also relies on food and financial contributions from the community. Demand is highest for pantry services in November and December.
“We're about food, so Thanksgiving, and really the entire holiday season, is a big time for us,” she said.
Last year, the Emergency Food Pantry provided food for approximately 5,000 meals to serve 1,700 local families.
Huntersville residents Titus and Christina Bartolotta established the Lotta Foundation in 2014 with a simple goal to “do a lotta good.” the organization sponsors food and coat collection campaigns during the year and its current project is the fifth annual Lotta Toys Drive.
Marked Lotta bins have been placed at partnering businesses throughout the north Mecklenburg area, and residents are encouraged to drop off new, unwrapped toys for pre-Christmas distribution to local families.
“We want people to have the chance to make the holidays better for children in the area who, without this project, might not have Christmas presents to open,” Titus Bartolotta said.
This year's toy drive will culminate with the Lotta Toy Store celebration Dec. 8 for selected families. The event will provide treats and activities for children while their parents browse the assortment of donated toys and select the ideal presents. Before the families leave, the presents are wrapped and prepared to be placed under the tree.
From 7-11 p.m. Dec. 7, the annual Lotta Bash will be held at the Bailey Glen community building, 11909 Meetinghouse Drive in Cornelius. A ticket purchase and toy donation gives attendees access to a night full of refreshments and music.
For information about the toy drive, gala and other foundation efforts, visit www.lottafoundation.org or call 704-727-0966.
Mooresville Soup Kitchen
The Mooresville Soup Kitchen serves approximately 150 guests each day and has more than 450 regular volunteers.
Executive Director Lara Ingram has been with the soup kitchen for two years, and she said Mooresville Soup Kitchen takes pride in serving a hot lunch to its guests every weekday.
“It feels really different from what people imagine a soup kitchen to look like,” Ingram said in a previous Mooresville Citizen interview. “Most people in their mind imagine that you get a sandwich and you go on your way at a soup kitchen. But these are beautifully prepared hot meals.”
The soup kitchen has also added more programs in the last year, including a job skills training program and a cooking class for busy families.
This season, Mooresville Soup Kitchen is most in need of napkins, spaghetti sauce, paper towels, toilet paper, barbecue sauce, five-pound containers of quick grits, gallon Ziploc bags, quart Ziploc bags, Windex, 13-gallon trash bags, pepper, onion powder, onion salt, garlic salt, Lawry's Seasoned Salt, Pam cooking spray, chicken Bouillon and beef Bouillon.
Financial donations are also accepted. According the Mooresville Soup Kitchen website, a $5 donation could provide a family four microwave meals for five days. A $25 donation could provide veterans a hot meal for two weeks.
If you have questions, contact Greg Williams at 704-660-9010 or email@example.com.
East Lincoln Christian Ministry
For more than 35 years, the East Lincoln Christian Ministry (ELCM) has been helping eastern Lincoln County. It is based out of 4278 Catawba Burris Road in Denver.
The initial small closet of donated clothes now also has home furnishings, and the organization has expanded its offerings to food programs through a food pantry and for those who are homebound. Other ELCM services help people pay necessary bills as well as do their taxes.
Among the items needed for the food pantry, according to the ELCM website, are canned meats, peanut butter, canned fruit, pork ‘n beans, canned vegetables, rice, dry cereal, oatmeal, spaghetti, boxed macaroni and cheese, pasta, sugar and oil and shortening. Glass containers should be avoided. Small sized canned goods and 1-pound packages of dry goods are preferred.
For other ways to volunteer, donate or support the organization, go to www.elcmdenver.com.
Do you know of other organization needing help for the holidays? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.