First Posted: 12/25/2008
PILOT MOUNTAIN Christmas came early this year for a number of local families in need of a helping hand as the Pilot Mountain Outreach Center completed its seventh annual Christmas community outreach project.
This years effort has seen volunteers provide food for at least 111 families. In addition, more than 150 children passed through the centers Christmas toy store, choosing gifts from a selection of new toys.
But while the holiday project receives much of the publics attention each December, the month is also a vital one for collecting food and donations to be used in the coming months. Several local businesses and civic organizations target the month to either make donations or wrap up sponsored projects to benefit the center. These include the Food Lion Hunger Has a Cure campaign as well as a community-wide food drive coordinated by the Pilot Mountain Womans Club.
Primary among these efforts is the Friends Feeding Friends project sponsored each year by Lowes Foods. The program involves local schools in a food drive which is by far the outreach centers largest of the year. Final numbers on this years drive will not be released until January.
According to outreach center Director Jimmy Caparolie, this years outpouring of holiday generosity will be much needed in the coming months.
As of the first of December, Caparolie explained, weve already seen more people this year than we saw all of last year. And for the month of November, we saw a 30-percent increase over the previous year. Most of those are people who are unemployed and, based on what were seeing now; we expect that to continue next year.
But even as the need has increased, center representatives have been encouraged by increased community support and involvement. Caparolie noted that several area churches, schools, businesses, civic groups, clubs and individuals have shown support in the past year, some for the first time.
More and more, he said, this is a joint community effort. Karen (Caparolie) and I want to express our appreciation to the community for the support weve seen. Its been amazing. But the need is great year-round and with the tough economic times we continue to need volunteers and support.
In addition to providing food for struggling families, the center has continued to seek ways to help those who are unemployed. It now serves as a JobLink Access Point, with trained volunteers on hand to help with employment searches and applications, resumes and cover pages. The center also works with Surry Community College to offer on-site GED classes.