News & Opinion

A Guide to Giving to Charlotte’s Most Vulnerable Populations

a person in a blue shirt squats down to pet a beagle during inside the new facility, vulnerable populations
Some dogs showed up to Humane Society of Charlotte’s ribbon cutting at its new facility in 2022. (Photo by Maria Goto/Frank Vasto)

‘Tis the season to think of the most vulnerable populations in Charlotte, but organizations that help those who need it most can be hard to find. Children, of course, come to mind, but there are others — folks going through incarceration and their families, for example. Then there are animals, abandoned to shelters and forgotten by all but those passionate volunteers at any given site. 

This holiday season, Humane Society of Charlotte is hosting its inaugural Angel Tree program. Thirty families signed up to be part of this year’s pilot program, which will allow “Pet Santas” to pick a name off of the Humane Society Christmas tree and give a toy, carrier, bowl, treats, blankets, or other approved gifts for some lucky furry family member. Dog houses and crates are in especially high demand. 

Outreach coordinator Via Spencer, who runs the Humane Society Food Bank, came up with the idea and hopes the program will be a part of a permanent holiday routine. After a gifter orders the gift and drops it off at the Humane Society’s facility on Parker Drive, staff and volunteers will wrap and distribute it to the participating pet parents. 

Learn more: Humane Society of Charlotte Opens New Animal Resource Center

Want to be an angel for a dog or cat in need? Come to the Humane Society of Charlotte at 1348 Parker Drive and pick a name off the Tree. While the first round of wrapping sessions ended on Dec. 19, there will be a post-Christmas round scheduled for Dec. 26-28 for volunteers to wrap and distribute gifts.

The Humane Society is also hoping to introduce more felines to new families this season as well, offering a deal that cuts the adoption fee in half for folks wanting to rescue not one cat or kitten but two. Buy one cat or kitten and get a second for 50% off the adoption fee between Dec. 20-27. 

The Center for Community Transitions (CCT) addresses the needs of the incarcerated, especially women, as well as children who have lost a parent or family member to deportation or incarceration. The Center for Women, part of CCT, is a 30-bed facility that supports women who are in the final stretch of their sentence by providing emotional and social support as well as job leads from employers who believe in second chances. 

Learn more: Center for Community Transitions Changes the Narrative Around Criminal Justice

Shaheeda Martin received a 17-21 year sentence for stealing less than $500 in groceries and clothes. She is now co-owner of Good Portions Italian Ices. She is part of the 90% within the program who do not reoffend. 

This December, CCT is seeking 30 clear backpacks for its Center for Women tenants. The organization also has an Amazon wish list that includes other supplies. Learn more about how to help CCT in its mission at the organization’s website.  

The Center for Community Transitions
The Center for Community Transitions in northeast Charlotte. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

Families Doing Time, also part of the CCT umbrella, supports families of those who have been imprisoned or deported through a monthly support group. FDT provides summer lunch programs and excursions for children missing a parent. Their wish list is on Amazon and includes supplies ranging from power drills to sports equipment to kitchenware. 

Then there are incarcerated children. The Cabarrus Youth Detention Center, formerly the Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center, is a reform school for incarcerated boys located in Concord. Members of the faith community regularly send care packages to the facility.

While the facility’s program director declined to be interviewed for this story, he did state that socks are always welcome for the boys. The facility’s address is 850 Holshouser Road, Concord.  

According to the latest State of Housing Instability and Homelessness (SoHIH) Report, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Mecklenburg County continues to increase, with an 11% increase in overall homelessness locally from June 2022 to June 2023. 

Block Love CLT
Deborah Woolard serves at Block Love CLT. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Block Love CLT has been working on the ground to serve our homeless neighbors for years. Beyond serving daily dinner for those in need, Block love also works directly with neighbors experiencing homelessness to learn their needs and provide them with needed hygiene items and seasonal clothing, among other things. 

Learn more: Nooze Hounds: Deborah Woolard of Block Love CLT

Block Love CLT founder Deb Woolard told Queen City Nerve that the organization is specifically seeking out thermals, hand warmers, ponchos, winter hats and gloves this December. Visit their daily dinner service at 6 p.m. on Montford Point Street to drop off items. 

The organization keeps an Amazon wish list while also welcoming meal sponsorships and financial donations.

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