Though the Christmas season is several months off, officials of the Shepherd’s House in Mount Airy have announced that it will again participate in the annual Honor Card Program.
Through that effort — which involved the local homeless facility for the first time last year — area residents can give cards signifying that the senders have made a donation to the shelter in the recipients’ honor. All proceeds from the card sales benefit the Shepherd’s House.
In addition, the cards are special in the sense that the scene depicted on the cover was drawn by William Mangum, a Greensboro watercolor artist, with the design highlighting the need to help others.
The theme for this year’s card is “Eternal Hope,” showing a man sitting on a bench with a duffel bag beside him in a snowy setting.
Sending the cards not only can aid the homeless shelter, but is a unique way to honor someone at Christmas, according to the Rev. Phil Goble Jr., its executive director.
“Everybody has those people you don’t know what to buy for,” Goble said Tuesday of individuals who tend to show up on everyone’s shopping list. “I think it is a really cool thing to do.”
Each Honor Card, which will be sold at a suggested donation price of $5, can be personalized, thus “honoring” an individual with a contribution to the homeless facility, the logo of which also is shown on the card.
“It’s a lasting effect,” Goble said of how the proceeds from card sales not only are a way to recognize someone at Christmas but help persons in need long after the season. “It’s a special card — it’s custom — you’re not going to find it anywhere else,” he added.
The Honor Card Program helps homeless agencies in Mount Airy and 13 other cities, including Charlotte, Wilmington, Greensboro, Asheville, Boone, Burlington, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville, Hickory, Raleigh, Rocky Mount and Winston-Salem.
“Wells Fargo backs it,” Goble said of assistance from the financial institution which underwrites the production cost of the cards. Piedmont Graphics and Mike and Sarah Kearney also assist in this regard, which means 100 percent of the proceeds of each card go directly to the agencies to help the homeless in each community.
“Every dollar stays with us,” Goble stressed.
About 250 cards were sold for the Shepherd’s House during the 2013 campaign, a first-year showing with which the shelter official seemed pleased.
“I’m hoping it will grow from year to year.”
The Shepherd’s House announced the 2014 Honor Card Program this week, but the cards won’t actually be available here until late November. That’s due to a black-out period that runs from mid-August until then in which local United Fund agencies, such as the Shepherd’s House, cease fundraising efforts.
This prevents such activities from interfering with the early stages of the United Fund campaign.
Buyers will be able to get the cards with envelopes and because they can be personalized, recipients know a donation has been made in their honor to the Shepherd’s House. The buyers then mail the cards to the intended recipients.
In addition to the Honor Card being available at the Shepherd’s House beginning on Nov. 22, the facility will be looking for business partners to sell the cards in local shops as well, but those locations have not been finalized.
The Shepherd’s House does have a few of the 2013 cards left, of the theme “Fall Into Me” — with a scene of a homeless man being ministered to outside a church.
Mangum, the artist behind the Honor Card Program, launched it in 1988 after a chance encounter with a hungry, homeless man in Greensboro.
As a result, Mangum was introduced to the plight of homelessness. He bought the man breakfast and took him to Greensboro Urban Ministry for shelter, clothes and food — ultimately becoming his caretaker for three years.
To date, more than 500,000 Honor Cards have been gifted and the program has raised in excess of $4.5 million to support homeless agencies across the state.
“Mr. Mangum has created a vehicle that has been a huge help to homeless shelters and their clients all across North Carolina,” Goble said. “His passion and heart for the plight of the homeless is evident every time you talk with him.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.