Banner photo by Kate Pope Photography

In this season of Thanksgiving and holiday celebrations, we want to highlight some of the outstanding ways that you can make a difference in the lives of neighbors and people living throughout our community. These are all local organizations dedicated to helping those close to our homes and hearts. People helping people—whether it’s an annual event or year-round opportunities to volunteer, it’s all about giving back in our local communities.

 the give gala at marbles kids museum. Kate Pope Photography.

the give gala at marbles kids museum. Kate Pope Photography.

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1) Sharing Yourself

The Give Gala
November 16th
7:30 to 10:30pm
Marbles Kids Museum
GiveGala.org

The Give Gala is a unique charity event to benefit critically ill children and their families. Instead of raising money, the event invites supporters to make a big difference through small acts of kindness. Gala attendees are asked to offer a service, gift, or talent to children with cancer and other life-threatening conditions. This offer is each person’s ticket into the gala, and the offers are distributed to patients and families who could benefit from them. Attendees also have the option to fulfill a request directly from the patients, families, and staff in exchange for a gala ticket.

This will be the third annual Give Gala, which is a project of the mission-driven brand Headbands of Hope, known for its work to benefit children battling cancer, in partnership with the nonprofit organization The Monday Life.

“Give Gala is a way for us to give back to childhood cancer patients in our community, but also shake up the stereotype of giving,” explained Jess Ekstrom, founder of Headbands of Hope, in the organization’s announcement of this year’s gala. “Since we don’t accept cash donations, people get creative with how they give back and find a more personal connection to making an impact.”

At last year’s gala, more than 500 people came together to support patient families by offering little acts of kindness, each of which directly improved the lives of children who are sick.


2) Chicken & Soup for the Soul

Stone Soup Supper
November 13th
UrbanMin.org/stone-soup-supper

Tour D’Coop
June 1st, 2019
TourDCoop.com

Don’t miss the chance to sample some 20 soups from top Triangle chefs, all competing to be named Soup-erior Chef. Slurp alongside celebrity judges, local foodies, and vote for your favorite chef. Shop pottery from the Triangle Potters Guild. All to benefit the work done by Urban Ministries of Wake County, which provides basic needs—food, shelter, and medicine—to people in our community who are living in crisis and poverty.

Then mark your calendar for Urban Ministries’ annual Tour D’Coop, another opportunity to give to a worthy cause while having a day of fun. You’ll visit the Triangle’s best backyard chicken coops, beehives, and gardens—right in your neighborhood! Travel by car or bike.


3) Lighting the Way for Healthcare

 photos by Brian Strickland

photos by Brian Strickland

The Love Light Tree
December 3rd
WakeMed.org/love-light

The Love Light Tree tradition started in 1985 with the generosity of Dr. Bill and Colleen Lee, who donated the first Love Light Tree in memory of their son, Matthew William Lee (March 5, 1979–November 26, 1984). The tradition continues as Love Light Tree donations are made in honor or memory of someone special. Each year, the tree is lit by one of WakeMed’s former pediatric patients.

 wake med’s cheers 4 children; photo by f8 Photo Studios

wake med’s cheers 4 children; photo by f8 Photo Studios

Cheers 4 Children
November 29th
WakeMed.org/cheers-for-children

Cheers 4 Children is an evening reception hosted in the main lobby of the hospital, and all of the dollars raised directly benefit programs and services at WakeMed Children’s Hospital.

In addition to benefitting the children and families served by WakeMed, this is a great way to kick off the holiday season with a festive fundraiser that includes live music, hors d’oeuvres, and a chance to celebrate with members of the business community, WakeMed leadership, and WakeMed supporters.

 the appreciation gala; photo by f8 photo studios

the appreciation gala; photo by f8 photo studios

The Appreciation Gala
April 13th, 2019
WakeMed.org/love-light

The Appreciation Gala is a “thank you” event that recognizes members in the Society of 1961. Named to commemorate the year that WakeMed was founded, the Society of 1961 honors donors who contribute $1,500 or more annually. The Appreciation Gala is one of the largest community-attended events in Wake County, and includes community leaders, grateful patients, corporate partners, volunteers, and physician practices who support the WakeMed Foundation at the Society of 1961 level. This is a passionate group of supporters who believe the health and well-being of our community is of the highest priority.


4) Help Support Life-Changing Education

 Chefs Emeril Lagasse and Ashley Christensen join eliza kraft olander to host benefit dinner; photos courtesy of Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center.

Chefs Emeril Lagasse and Ashley Christensen join eliza kraft olander to host benefit dinner; photos courtesy of Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center.

Triangle Wine Experience
January 31st, 2019
February 2nd, 2019
TriangleWineExperience.org

The Triangle Wine Experience, now in its 26th year, is a world-class charity event that benefits the Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center, a special school that provides life-changing education for young children. For the 2019 Triangle Wine Experience, more than 60 wineries from around the world will fly into RDU for the Triangle’s premier wine and food affair. The event will feature winery dinners at the area’s finest restaurants on Thursday, January 31st. The Grand Gala and Auction, the signature event of Triangle Wine Experience, takes place on Saturday, February 2nd. Tickets go on sale December 1st.


5) The Road to Recovery

 a peaceful courtyard on the men’s campus of healing transitions offers respite and an opportunity for reflection.

a peaceful courtyard on the men’s campus of healing transitions offers respite and an opportunity for reflection.

Volunteer Year-Round
Healing-Transitions.org

Healing Transitions is a nonprofit offering peer-based recovery services to homeless and underserved individuals with alcoholism and other drug addictions. The organization does this through a recovery program—designed to rekindle a person’s desire and ability to return to a meaningful and productive life—that has proven results and is provided at no cost to participants. In addition, they provide much-needed services on demand, including non-medical detox, access to the Healing Transitions healthcare clinic, emergency shelter, a warm meal, and clothing.

Volunteers are needed in many capacities, including helping in the thrift store, serving food, and assisting with seasonal celebrations that make a happy holiday possible for participants and their children. Volunteers also provide the added benefit of serving as role models to participants who are working to put their lives back together.


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6) Helping Children Cope

Volunteer Year-Round
HoltBrothersFoundation.com

Torry Holt was 10 and his brother Terrence was 6 when their mom was diagnosed with lymphoma; she passed away 10 years later. To honor their mom, the brothers (former NFL and N.C. State University football stars) founded the Holt Brothers Foundation.

 (top) torry holt and (bottom) both torry and terrence holt, surrounded by camp kesem attendees; Photos courtesy of Camp Kesem / N.C. State Chapter.

(top) torry holt and (bottom) both torry and terrence holt, surrounded by camp kesem attendees; Photos courtesy of Camp Kesem / N.C. State Chapter.

The organization supports children ages 4 to 16 who have a parent with cancer. This is done primarily through KidsCan, an educational and peer-empathy support group at area hospitals, and through Camp Kesem, a sleepaway camp run by college counselors.


 dan and tracy davidian, founders of the helene foundation. photo by davies photography.

dan and tracy davidian, founders of the helene foundation. photo by davies photography.

7) Preserving Home Life When Mom is Sick

Year-Round Opportunities
HeleneFoundation.org

The Helene Foundation provides support to mothers who are fighting cancer, and it does so in ways that will positively impact their families. The goal is for the family to maintain as much normalcy as possible during these adverse circumstances. The foundation works with each mother to determine what the family needs and how they can help take the stress off her shoulders. Services include routine home necessities like house cleaning, tutoring, childcare, meal delivery to the home, and assistance with transportation costs to medical appointments and treatments. In the past, the foundation has also covered the cost of a range of children’s activities. Assistance is typically provided for six months. The Helene Foundation receives referrals from social workers at area hospitals, but also accepts referrals from the community. Since 2009, the Helene Foundation has assisted more than 180 families and 376 children, and has given back more than $500,000 in services to our community. Currently, the foundation has 16 active families.

 the helene foundation gala. photo by davies photography.

the helene foundation gala. photo by davies photography.


8) Enrichment Through the Arts

 Black Box Dance Theatre visited Martin Middle School for a performance and a five-day residency with the Martin Dance Company and Dance Ensemble classes in November 2017. The residency culminated in an after-school performance titled #Journeys, which included two pieces from the residency: #Day of Dead and #Goodtogo.

Black Box Dance Theatre visited Martin Middle School for a performance and a five-day residency with the Martin Dance Company and Dance Ensemble classes in November 2017. The residency culminated in an after-school performance titled #Journeys, which included two pieces from the residency: #Day of Dead and #Goodtogo.

Year-Round Opportunities
UnitedArts.org

The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County helps bring the arts into the lives of the people who live here. The organization supports programming for arts education in 150 Wake schools annually. It also offers grants to individual artists, arts nonprofits, and municipalities in Wake County, and it sponsors the Piedmont Laureate and Wake County Visiting Artist programs. United Arts is designated by the Wake County Commissioners and the N.C. Arts Council as the official local arts agency for the county. If you have a passion for the arts or children or both, contact United Arts about ways you can get involved.


9) Support for Survivors

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Year-Round Opportunities
InterActOfWake.org/HowToHelp

Saving Lives. Rebuilding Lives. Securing Safer Futures. That is the motto of Raleigh-based InterAct, an organization that serves an estimated 66,000 victims of domestic and sexual violence in Wake County each year. Their services include providing 24-hour crisis lines, court advocacy and filing of protective orders, emergency shelter, counseling, youth education, and sexual assault forensic examination services, which are performed at their community-based Solace Center.

InterAct also operates the Pass It On Thrift Store, a resale shop offering upscale, new and gently used women’s clothing. Survivors of domestic or sexual violence and their families can shop from the store for free, but it is also open to the public, with profits from the low-priced merchandise going back into InterAct’s operating budget.

Volunteer opportunities within the organization are abundant and include administrative support, serving as a crisis line counselor or shelter advocate, and helping in the thrift store. InterAct also relies on monetary support and donations to the thrift store to keep operating costs down.


10) Service Dogs for Those on the Autism Spectrum

 Ralphie, one of Ry-Con’s trained Briard service dogs, accompanies his charge on the playground.

Ralphie, one of Ry-Con’s trained Briard service dogs, accompanies his charge on the playground.

Volunteer Year-Round
Ry-Con.com

Mark Mathis, the founder of RY-Con Service Dogs, saw the benefits service dogs could provide to individuals on the autism spectrum, and went to work training and matching dogs to clients. The organization works exclusively with the Briard breed because of its gentle, protective temperament. Briards also have long, thick fur, which can be soothing—on both visual and tactile levels—to those with sensory issues. The dogs work as a gateway to social interaction, and can reduce up to 70 percent of the stress that their clients feel in public scenarios.

Monetary donations are always welcome, but Mathis says the biggest way to help the organization is to come in and work with the puppies. Yes, you read that right—you can help out in the community by playing with puppies.

It really doesn’t get any better than that!

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