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Over 150 community donors recently gave over $14,000 to help more than 140 students who applied to receive assistance through Cape Fear Community College’s Holiday Helpers program.

Established in 2005 by Betsy Leonard, a board member of the Cape Fear Community College Foundation, Holiday Helpers is a way for donors to support CFCC students who are struggling financially during the holidays. “The initial focus of the program was to ensure that the children of hard-working students would be able to experience the joy of knowing Santa Claus remembered them on Christmas morning,” said Leonard.

After a careful vetting process to ensure each student meets financial need requirements, students are selected to receive gift cards so they may purchase toys, gifts, food and clothing for their families during the holidays.  And in some cases, donors choose to accompany students on shopping trips.

Anjanette Hare was one student who received assistance from the Holiday Helpers program. Hare is a pre-elementary education student at CFCC.  She has three children, an 18 year old son serving in the Army, and two younger children, a boy and a girl.  When Hare’s husband suddenly died in June of this year, she found herself exhausting all her disposable income to pay for medical bills and funeral expenses.  The family did not have medical insurance.

As the holidays approached, Hare feared she wouldn’t be able to afford Christmas presents for her kids.  After the terrible year they had been through, she didn’t want them to endure another disappointment.  When she heard about the Holiday Helpers program, she reluctantly applied.  “I’m the kind of person who hates to ask for help,” Hare said.

Hare’s application was reviewed, and she was selected by the CFCC Business Office staff to be taken on a shopping excursion.  “I am overwhelmed at the kindness I’ve been shown,” Hare commented as she met with Jennie Price, Administrative Assistant to Vice President of Business and Institutional Services, who accompanied Hare on the shopping trip. 

On the shopping trip, Hare picked out games and toys for Christmas gifts.  She was very selective and wanted to make sure she made the most of the money she had to spend.

Hare purchased several board games.  She said she wanted to create a standing family game night each week.  She said since her husband’s death, she’s trying to spend as much time with her family as possible.  “When something like that happens so quickly, it makes you think – don’t waste a minute,” said Hare.

“I can’t express how grateful I am for the help I’ve received this year.  The last 6 months have been more of a struggle than I expected.   My teachers at CFCC really worked with me this summer when everything happened, and now this.  My goal is to get my degree through NC Wesleyan after I finish my Associates at CFCC.  NC Wesleyan offers classes at CFCC, so I’ll never have to leave,” said Hare.

The Holiday Helpers program has grown dramatically since its inception in 2005. “In the first years of the program, about 50 students received assistance,” said Dana McKoy, Director of Annual Giving at the CFCC Foundation, “but because of the dedication of our volunteer committee, more than 140 CFCC students and 300 children in the Wilmington area will experience the joy of the holiday season this year.”

The Holiday Helpers committee consists of program founder Leonard and long-time volunteers Marietta Gwathmey, Jane Rippy, Madeline Trask and Joyce Vietto, who support the program through personal networking with friends, and social, civic and religious organizations. “The outpouring of support this year for the Holiday Helpers program has been tremendous,” said Leonard. “This is just another indication that our donors value the importance of community college education by helping worthy students who are striving to help themselves and ultimately use their education and vocational skills to become a vital part of the community in which they and their families live.”

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The Cape Fear Community College Foundation exists solely to support the students, faculty, academic programs and mission of the College. The Foundation secures and manages gifts and grants, including cash contributions, planned or estate gifts, securities, donated services, and equipment and supplies for educational purposes. For more information about CFCC, or about scholarship opportunities, please contact the Cape Fear Community College Foundation at 910.362.7207 or visit www.cfcc.edu/foundation.

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