Meals On Wheels To Host ‘Dining For Dollars’

Meals on Wheels of Chapel Hill and Carrboro is hosting a fundraiser dinner Thursday at Hickory Tavern. The organization will use the money to help provide daily lunches to local senior citizens.

For some senior citizens, health problems and limited mobility can make putting together a mid-day meal a near-impossible undertaking. Meals on Wheels makes sure more than 150 local seniors who can’t stand over the stove still get a hot lunch.

“Our volunteers come, bring a hot meal that’s prepared by K&W and a warm smile, often special little gifts from school children in their area, spend a few minutes visiting and just allow those people to remain independent in their own homes,” says Executive Director of Chapel Hill and Carrboro Meals on Wheels Stacey Yusko.

Yusko says the organization is holding its fundraiser “Dining for Dollars,” because it needs money to help subsidize the cost of the lunches it provides. Yusko says a growing number of local seniors need help paying for their meals.

“We have also found that an increasing percentage of the people we serve are dealing with poverty,” says Yusko. “In 1996 I think Meals on Wheels only had to pay about 30 percent of the cost. This year, we’re paying 75 percent. There’s been a huge change in the amount that we have to fundraise. It’s completely changed the complexion of the organization.”

Dining for Dollars will be held Thursday from 6 pm to 9 pm at Hickory Tavern in Carrboro. Ticket-holders will receive dinner at Hickory Tavern and can bid on auction items. You can buy tickets online here.

Maple View Farm Raising Money for Charities After Christmas Day Robbery

A local ice cream favorite is working to make up some lost ground for charity after they were robbed on Christmas Day.

The holidays are a time for sharing and giving. But unfortunately, there are some that see the season as an opportune time for taking.

Maple View Farm spent the lead-up to the holiday season collecting donations for two local charities: Sam’s Wish Fund – an organization that makes wishes come true for children in hospice care and their families – and the Masonic Homes for Children at Oxford.

On Christmas morning, Maple View Ice Cream General Manager Allison Nichols got some disappointing news.

“I was contacted a little before 8 in the morning,” she says, as she was expecting a wish for a Merry Christmas. “[I was told] your hand truck is at the end of the driveway, somebody’s been at the ice cream store, and you all have been robbed.”

Nichols adds as she was surveying the scene, while still wearing her Christmas pajamas, she noticed the thieves didn’t stop at stealing from the store.

“Unfortunately, when someone broke in, they not only stole from us,” she says. “They also decided to take our charity jars.”

The robbers were able to make off with the wooden box for donations to the Masonic Home for Children and three of the four donation jars for children in hospice care. The fourth was recovered after it had been pushed against a column and out of sight while employees were cleaning on Christmas Eve.

Luckily the donations had been collected several times throughout the month of December, but Nichols says there is no way to know exactly how much was stolen.

She adds the community has always been very generous in supporting the causes at the ice cream shop.

“We appreciate the support of the community,” she says. “The individuals that come out and support the ice cream store make it possible for us to stay in business and for us to give back to these organizations.”

Driving on that community support, Nichols says they will have a special offer in the coming days to attempt to make up for lost ground for the charities, after the robbery.

“Going through Sunday, January 11,” she says, “if you buy any large sundae we will give a percentage of the sale between the [Sam’s] Wish Fund and the Masonic Home for Children.”

The store is located at 6900 Rocky Ridge Road, in Hillsborough, and is open noon – 8 P.M., seven days a week.

You can also donate to the charities directly. Nichols says they have listed all of the information concerning donations on their Facebook page.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, the investigation into the robbery is ongoing.

Morris Grove Students Tout Peace, Love And Painted Pumpkins

The third annual Morris Grove Pumpkin Auction offers gorgeous gourds for a great cause.

“Our fifth-grade art club has been working hard for the past three weeks hand-painting artificial pumpkins with all sorts of themes and designs,” says Becky Springer, the art teacher at Morris Grove Elementary.

The 25 decorated pumpkins range from traditional Halloween designs to movie themes, sports teams, fine art and the school’s unofficial motto, “Peace, Love and Geckos.”

The proceeds from the pumpkin auction will go to support the United Way.

“The first year we did it we raised about $500, and last year we raised almost $1,000,” says Springer.

Pumpkins go on display this Wednesday and bids will be accepted through next Tuesday. Any adult can make a bid, and bidders are encouraged to check on the progress of the auction throughout the week. Springer notes in the past some pumpkins have gone for as much as $95.

Local Church Fights Child Hunger

You may be planning to gain weight as you feast over the holiday season; but one in four kids in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools doesn’t have that option. A pastor at a local church is trying to help.

***Listen to the Story***

Chad Simpkins is the pastor at Varsity Church in Chapel Hill. He and his family moved here a few years ago. They were surprised to hear that child hunger is more common in the community than you might think.

“I grew up in North Carolina in Winston Salem, and I always thought Chapel Hill was this safety zone where there were no issues,” says Simpkins, “To hear that kind of blew us out of the water. So we’ve got to do something about that.”

The church found a handful of different programs to address the issue. One of those programs takes off this weekend for the second year in a row.

Simpkins, church members, and community volunteers are packing 10,000 meals for children in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Orange County, and Durham. It’s for a non-profit program known as “Feed 10,000”.

“Child Hunger affects so much of a child’s life,” Simpkins says.

“Not just that they don’t have food. It affects their educational abilities, and of course brings a lot of stress to families. This is more than just feeding stomachs. We feel like it’s feeding minds too.”

Simpkins says he doesn’t expect to resolve the issue of local child hunger in one weekend. But he says he hopes it brings awareness to the issue. He says he hopes people are motivated to take action.

“The resources are here,” says Simpkins: “But like me and our family, not knowing that need is there is a big problem. Anything we can do to get the word out, and get people involved to make a bigger dent in child hunger is great. There shouldn’t be a kid here that ever goes to bed hungry.”

300 volunteers packed the cafeteria at SmithMiddle School last year. Simpkins says it looks like they will do the same this season. He says if you want to volunteer, sign up before the spaces fill up.

“We want to make a difference in this community, but we also know we can’t do it on our own,” Simpkins says, “We want to do it with people in the community, whether they’re part of our church or not.”

To find out how you can help click here.

UNC Classes to Host Fundraising Face-off Thursday

Chapel Hill – A little competition never hurt anyone; in fact, it can do a lot of good. That seems to be the teaching strategy of UNC professor Gary Kayye.

***Listen to the Story***

Kayye teaches a new media technology class for the UNC journalism school. He teaches two classes, and each one executes a fundraising campaign for their final project.

“I pit one class against the other,” says Kayye, “They have to create an event that raises money for a non profit.”

If you’re involved with UNC campus life you may have seen his students’ work on campus, or on your Facebook and Twitter timelines.

“Both of them are very creative,” Kayye says, “Both of them have had enormous engagement.”

UNC seniors Kelly Crupi and Tricia Cleppe are the captains of the two competing teams that have created a campus-wide buzz.

Cleppe’s team is known as “Heel Heist for the Monday Life”. The Monday Life is a non-profit that helps child patients feel better and heal faster by improving their hospital environment.

“By helping the Monday Life we’re helping buy iPads for children that are stuck in bed to play games on, as well as other resources that make their experience a little better,” Cleppe says.

The campaign raises awareness of their cause through “Scamzees” – a prankster whose catch phrase is, “Doing a little bad for a lot of good.”

“Scamzees decided that since UNC has such a strong athletic tradition, the best way to grab attention from people is to symbolically kidnap athletes around campus,” Cleppe says, “We released videos showing these athletes being a little paranoid, and having Scamzees kidnap them. We did that to raise a ransom, which is 1,000 dollars.”

Scamzees kidnapped UNC men’s basketball star PJ Hairston, men’s soccer players Tyler Engel and Jordan McCrary, and four gymnastics team members:  Kristin Aloi, Haley Watts, Christina Pheil, and Margaret Brown.

Students are encouraged to attend the “Heel Heist” Thursday night to raise money for the athletes’ ransom, which will be donated to the Monday Life.

Crupi’s team is hosting Throwback Thursday UNC, better known as “tbtUNC”. The campaign gives UNC students, most of whom were born in the 1990s, a chance to reminisce on their childhoods.

They’re hosting the “Baby Got Throwback Bash” Thursday night.

“We’re going to have a DJ and a live band playing covers of the top hits, and we have over 1,200 dollars worth of prizes to give away,” Crupi says.

tbtUNC raises awareness for their event through social media, with different themes each day. On “Trivia Tuesday,” for example, they ask a trivia question about the 90s on Twitter, and offer prizes to students who answer the questions correctly.

Guests at the event Thursday night will pay a cover, to benefit Camp Kesem.

“It’s a camp for children from ages 6 to 16 who have a parent who either has or has had cancer,” Crupi says, “It’s a one week camp in the summer. It’s basically an opportunity for them to have fun, and not have to think about the fact that they’re dealing with such a devastating thing back at home.”

Students in Kayye’s class may not need a blue book or a scantron sheet for their final project, but Cleppe says the pressure is still on.

“You just really don’t know how much work goes into these types of campaigns until you’re in the middle of one.”

That’s exactly the hands-on lesson Kayye says he planned for the 2 classes.

“They’re doing this in real life,” Kayye says, “Instead of them creating a graphic for a company that doesn’t exist, or creating a social media campaign for something that doesn’t exist; they’re actually invested in seeing it be successful.”

Cleppe’s and Crupi’s teams face off Thursday night as they both host their events at bars on Franklin Street. “Heel Heist” will be held at the library from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. The “Baby Got Throwback Bash” will be held at R & R Grill from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m.

For more information about Scamzees and the “Heel Heist,” click here.

For more information about tbtUNC and the “Baby Got Throwback Bash,” click here.

This is the Age of Too

Dear Editor,

This is the age of “Too.”  Too many demands – from kids, work, relationships, finances, health; even global events pushed on us via instant media. So we learn to compartmentalize. To pick and choose the battles.  To decide what piece of us we have to carve out for that next grasping hand.  Somewhere on that list, there are the philanthropies whether in money or in time. With the economic recession, many of us have had to whittle those kindness to the bone.  We’ve had to toss out envelopes with pictures of skeletal children, puppies shivering in fear, or the sounding of environmental catastrophes.  We are in the “learn to say no” stage of survival.  I get it.  I’m too am struggling to find some footing in my personal financial quagmires with the loss of a job, possibly a home and being more than just a little afraid.

Then,  I made the mistake of taking some down time to listen to Lisa Kristine on  I made the mistake of seeing, of listening, of feeling.  Now, I cannot compartmentalize this new reality.  I cannot justify inaction.  This amazing documentation of 21st century slavery is a brutal assessment of our values-an indictment of the loss of humanity for all our nations.  The images and the words are seared in my conscience and my heart, for that is what happens when you see, hear and feel Hell. Yet, somehow in that writhing inferno, I also saw true beauty, resilience, determination and good. I learned there are those brave enough to battle real monsters; no unrealistic happily ever afters, but dogged, systematic changes that brings hope for 27 million slaves around the world, around the corner. 

Nineteen minutes and twenty-two seconds. That is the time it will take for you to bear witness to one of the most important truths of our times.  Twenty seven million men, women and children who have never known anything other than suffering,  is counting on you to donate nineteen minutes and twenty-two seconds of your time.  If at the end, you choose to give five dollars, to write another letter to the editor, to sponsor a fundraiser in your school, or to just put your struggles in perspective, you will have changed.  Your burdens will be lighter.  Your love of your family stronger. Your gratefulness will abound.  Please. Bear witness.

Mae L. Arant

The Great Shoot Out in the Garden

On Sunday, October 9th, Kidzu Museum of Chapel Hill, North Carolina is hosting the Great Shoot Out of 2011 at the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

What’s the Great Shoot Out?

The Great Shoot Out is a fun way to get a professional portrait by one of North Carolina’s kid-friendliest photographers for a great deal! Sessions can feature up to seven people, dogs, cats and what/whoever else you’d like to have in a snappy photo. All funds benefit the amazing programming at Kidzu Children’s Museum. I am one of the professional photographers who will be on hand that day. What fun it will be to have a bunch of a great families in a gorgeous setting doing good deeds together. The event runs from 9 to 4:30.

What is Kidzu?

If you are a Chapel Hill parent with younger kids you most likely know Kidzu very well, but for the rest of you, Kidzu Children’s Museum is an interactive museum for young children and families located in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina.Their mission is to inspire children and the adults in their lives to learn through play. In a town full of activities geared towards college students it is a special oasis for people raising children in the Hill.

I recently spoke with Marie Ong-Tighe of the museum about the event. She told me that in addition to the fundraising photographer sessions, they are also running free, fun, fall activities such as squash bowling, fairy house building, and a Music Together class with Erica Berry to showcase what the Kidzu community is all about.

Said, Ong-Tighe, “We would love to see families come by even if they don’t have sessions, since this is the second year of this fundraiser and Kidzu is hoping to make it a successful annual event. It would be great if people got to experience what a fun fall family event the Great Shoot Out can be!”

You can sign up for a session on-line at The Great Shoot Out 2011.

What is Happening with Kidzu?

Well, if you have been by recently you will see that the location at 105 East Franklin Street is closed. Dennis Schaecher, Kidzu’s board chair, explained to me that in November 2009, the Town of Chapel Hill unanimously voted to provide Kidzu a site for our expansion museum just a block from their original location on top of the Wallace Deck. They hope to welcome visitors to the new site in 2014. To make that dream a reality they are raising an incremental $7.5 million. Until then, they will be located at 123 West Franklin Street, Suite B, on the rear side of University Square. They will open the interim space shortly before Thanksgiving.

Recent fundraising events have included a Kids Rock! concert at Forest Theatre featuring outhern Culture on the Skids, Tim Smith, Mister John Saylor, Flying Hippo; a Kidzu Pirate Party; and a Kidzu Popsicle Party featuring Locopops. The photos below are from that event.

Imagine an awesome, new museum here!

Opal and Margot Benrimo stay cool at the misting station.

The Levinson Family came to celebrate. From left to right they are Savanna Levinson, Howie Levinson, Gavin Levinson, Hutch Levinson and Melanie Hatz Levinson. Hatz Levinson is the curator of exhibits and is really excited about transforming the Wallace Parking Deck into a beautiful, new 15,000 square foot museum for children with exhibits indoors and out.

Theo and Erika Buckholtz plant flowers and to establish roots for Kidzu, along with Cornelia Nisbet, right.

Schaecher said, “We are really fortunate to have such a talented group of photographers volunteer their time for this event. It is a great chance for local families to have a professional photo taken of their family at a reduced rate just in time for the holidays. I encourage people to take advantage of this opportunity. It is easy to sign up by going to

See you there!!!!