Opportunities for local holiday giving still available
It’s not too late to help a family in need this Christmas. The Swain County Family Resource Center could still use some assistance with its Christmas Cheer program, and various local businesses have set up donation boxes to encourage charitable giving.
The Family Resource Center’s Christmas Cheer program provides Christmas gifts to families who can’t afford them. Families apply through the center, and community members are then given the opportunity to sponsor families, whether as an agency, a family or individual sponsor.
According to Family Resource Center Director Melissa Barker, as of Monday, the center was still in need of sponsors for this Christmas. Sponsors have the option of shopping for a family and delivering the gifts themselves or having the center deliver the gifts. Those who don’t have time to shop can donate money and leave the shopping up to the center as well.
Barker said the center is hoping to have things wrapped up with Christmas Cheer by Friday afternoon, so anyone interested in becoming a sponsor should contact the center as soon as possible.
Those who would like to volunteer their time can help with the center’s last hot chocolate fundraisers of the season, taking place near the train depot this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4-8 p.m. The center sells hot chocolate in reusable mugs for $5, with proceeds benefitting its Christmas Cheer program.
The Family Resource Center could use help in other areas as well. Food donations are welcome, especially at this time of year when schools take long breaks and families can’t rely on school meals for their children. Barker said several local schools and churches have conducted food drives recently to help meet this need. In turn, the center uses donations such as these to make food baskets to deliver to families at Christmas.
Barker said volunteers who can help the center’s visitors carry things to their vehicles would also be appreciated.
Beyond the Christmas season, Barker said the Family Resource Center has volunteer opportunities throughout the year. There is a twice weekly food distribution and a clothing and hygiene closet. There are also classes at the center, and volunteers can help prepare food and cleanup during these meetings. When the weather warms up, the center will need help with landscaping as well.
For those who would like to volunteer, Barker said she is sure the center has a need to fit any skill set. She emphasized that the center would not exist without the support of the community.
The Family Resource Center can be reached at 828-488-7505 and is located at 300 Hughes Branch Road. It is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Many local businesses are promoting the spirit of giving as well. The Nantahala Brewing Company is collecting new, unwrapped toys for the Family Resource Center. Director of marketing and social media for the brewing company Kate Dickey said that while the emphasis is on toys for children, donations of other items, such as adult clothing, could be given to families as well. She noted that if the center receives more than it can use, the donated toys can be distributed throughout the year when a child has a birthday, for example, or is moving to a new home.
The brewing company is hosting a Holiday Ugly Sweater Party on Friday, and guests can enter the ugly sweater contest for the chance to win a prize by bringing a new gift. Also this month, Nantahala Brewing Company is donating $1 for every pint poured of Bryson City Brown Ale to the Family Resource Center.
Toy or gift donations can be dropped off at the taproom located at 61 Depot Street during its operating hours of noon-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday, and from noon-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The brewing company is planning to take collected items to the Family Resource Center on Saturday.
Mountain Layers Brewing Company has also been collecting toys for the Christmas Cheer program, and owner Mark Pettit hopes people will continue to donate through the weekend.
Earlier this month, as a participant in the Bryson City Christmas Parade, the business collected toys along the route from parade attendees, loading the gifts into its “sleigh.” It has continued to collect new unwrapped toys at 90 Everett Street.
Pettit said it has been wonderful watching people come in and donate toys. He added that Mountain Layers is happy to be a part of the community and happy to be involved in things like collecting toys for the Family Resource Center.
The Swain County Chamber of Commerce is also a drop off location for toys for the Family Resource Center. The Chamber is located at 210 Main Street.