Many of us have thoughts of giving back during the holidays, but sometimes the hustle and bustle takes too much of our time and energy to follow through on our grand plans. The following Charlotte women have dedicated countless hours to providing Thanksgiving meals and holiday joy for those less fortunate in our community. We are honored to highlight their efforts which can typically be behind the scenes and would love to know of more leading ladies in Charlotte who deserve recognition.
Each story has a call to action to help you contribute to their causes. Be sure to let us know which one you will be giving to.
This article is sponsored by Charlotte Radiology Breast Services.
I have a heart for those in our community whose circumstances may not allow them to experience the joy of Thanksgiving dinner in their own home. Pam Beam, Charlotte Rescue Mission
Pam Beam rose to a challenge her boss presented her with 5 years ago to increase the amount of families Charlotte Rescue Mission could serve for the Thanksgiving holiday. Last year, the Thanksgiving Food Box program provided 3,600 families an entire Thanksgiving meal to prepare in their own home and gave them the opportunity to make memories and enjoy each other’s company. The food boxes and turkeys benefit four Title 1 schools, non-profits that serve those in need, public housing communities, and recreation centers in at-risk neighborhoods.
How can you help?
This little idea of collecting a few turkeys has turned into a company-wide initiative. I am proud and humbled at how many people continue to support and get excited to help our community.April Sepanski, David Weekley Homes
Thirteen years ago, the Charlotte office of David Weekley Homes held their first turkey collection drive. They noticed that there were LOTS of canned food drives and calls for non-perishable items, April Sepanski dared to be different and decided to help provide the most expensive portion of Thanksgiving meals; the turkey. The first year they were proud of the 37 turkeys collected and donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. The Turkey Day initiative has grown so much that they now count donations in pounds, last year they provided over 73,000 pounds of food.
How can you help?
Make a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina through this link
I’m lucky enough to get to help children every day doing what I do. This particular event is just something special though. It truly brings a sense of community and I think everyone who attends feels the magic of the season. We have a very small staff so most of what we do is done by thousands of volunteers throughout the year. The Joy Jubilee gives people of all ages a chance to serve, see what we’re all about and experience some holiday fun.Melissa Tamez, Bright Blessings
As Development Director for Bright Blessings, Melissa Tamez works to provide homeless children with birthday parties at school and babies with essentials that their families can not provide. Not wanting to leave these families without during the holiday season, Tamez and the Bright Blessings staff work to provide stockings full of gifts and trim-a-tree sets to children in Union County and Mecklenburg County schools as well as to several shelters. The Joy Jubilee is also a way to give the community an opportunity to look inside and participate in the work that Bright Blessings is involved in year round.
How can you help?
Make plans to attend the Joy Jubilee party; there are several volunteer opportunities, cookie decorating, train rides, sand art, popcorn, and Santa. Year round, you can sign up for volunteer sessions, host adopt a shelter parties and of course donate. More info can be found at www.brightblessingsusa.org.
Senior Director, Contingent Labor
It has been so humbling for me to see the generosity of the Go Jen Go community and how they come out to support this project in such a big way. When we show up at the door of a woman who is in the fight of her life and we have a car load of beautifully wrapped gifts for her family to put under the tree there is not a dry eye to be seen. Meredith McGough, Charter Communications
Through volunteering with the Go Jen Go Foundation, Meredith McGough knew the financial impact a breast cancer diagnosis can have on a family. With that knowledge, she thought of the added cost of providing holiday meals and gifts was something these families could not manage. That is where Operation Spread the Joy was born. Each November for the past 7 years, McGough has contacted families that have been provided financial support from Go Jen Go and asks for their holiday wish lists for their entire family. Over the years, Spread the Joy has grown from McGough’s family room to now having a sponsorship with Charlotte Radiology and last year was able to provide 36 families with gifts and gift cards to purchase holiday meals.
How can you help?
Adopt a family or provide items from family wish lists, lists will be available the 1st week of December, connect with Go Jen Go through their Facebook page for details or make a donation at www.gojengo.org and indicate Operation Spread the Joy.
Community Partnership Chair
The families in our program work so hard to make a better life for their children and it’s such a great feeling to be able to help them in anyway possible. Sometimes it’s something small like new sheets for their kids now that they have moved into a new apartment and sometimes it’s life changing like giving them a car so they now have a safe and easy way to get to work. Our families are always so grateful. I told one mom that we were now her village looking out for her and she said she never had a village before. That stuck with me and I hope we can be a village to a lot more Charlotte families.” Telitha Hight,
Household essentials, for most reading this it’s an Amazon Prime order or a Target run, but many Charlotte families struggle to fill their home with everyday items for their daily needs. Enter Telitha Hight and Families Forward Charlotte. Hight works with families of CMS Title 1 schools to create essentials baskets providing everything from household items to furniture and food to bring relief to their homes. She has been known to tap into her neighborhood and Facebook mom groups with wish lists of items needed and volunteers to pick up and coordinate delivery going above and beyond the efforts of her job description.
How can you help?
For families already experiencing financial strife, the holidays present another challenge. You can help by purchasing gifts from Families Forward Charlotte’s Virtual Angel Tree or make a general donation through their website.
This series, brought to you by Charlotte Radiology Breast Centers, highlights the Charlotte Women making our community the vibrant, growing, exciting place they’ve been calling home for 50 years. At Charlotte Radiology, they know women, seeing over 100,000 women a year for their breast health needs. The professionals at Charlotte Radiology believe the key to beating and detecting breast cancer early is annual mammograms starting at age 40.