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Give the gift of giving

Article Published: Dec. 15, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

'Tis the season of giving. Instead of battling big box stores, give a gift that "keeps on giving."

Charitable donations are quick, easy and, most of the time, can slide into the envelope with the holiday card. The Mountain Times has compiled a list of ways you can give, both to people on your list and to your community.

Hospitality House
Inspired by the winter chill? Try donating to Hospitality House, a move particularly timely since a new shelter is set to open Feb. 4, 2011. With winter chill sinking past the teens, HH was full to capacity Monday with 22 residents.

"And we moved a family of three into a hotel last night," director of development Jill Kuykendall said.

Couple that with the three residents expected to arrive by Tuesday, and it's not an ideal situation for the only homeless shelter in a seven-county area. "We're trying not to turn anyone away," she said.

And, thanks to donations, it's about to get better. HH is at 96 percent of its $3 million goal for the new facility.

The new shelter will house 62 residents at full capacity, and naming rights are still available, perfect for that difficult-to-shop-for person on your Christmas list.

Additionally, HH's WeCAN (Watauga Crisis Assistance Network) is also in need of donations. The program assists community residents facing utility cutoffs and heating fuel shortages. It's a program that provided more than $60,000 worth of help to families in 2009, and demand is supposed to increase. What better way to warm your loved one's heart than to give the gift of warmth? Check out or call (828) 264-1237.

Watauga Humane Society
People aren't the only ones seeking shelter from the chill. The Watauga County Humane Society is entering its busy season.

"It's starting to pick up for Christmas adoptions, which is good, because we're completely full," director Lynn Northup said.

That doesn't mean you have to pick up a Christmas puppy. But you can cut a check in honor of a loved one.

"We provide a great community service," Northup said. "Not only do we help animals, but we have the free pet food for people that can't afford it. We do Meals on Wheels. We have an education program, a low-cost spay-neuter program. We offer a lot of programs to the community, and we depend solely on donations to operate."

And a new facility, projected to be open in April, will increase what WHS is able to offer. Current capacity is 35 dogs to 40 cats. That's expected to double.

And, once the new building opens its doors, WHS will merge with the county animal shelter.
"Right now, (animal control) has their own facility, but we work very closely with them, and we take most of their animals ... if we weren't here, the thousands or so that we take in each year would have to go to animal control at taxpayers' expense," she said.

So, what better gift to animal lover than a show of support? Check out for more information or call (828) 264-7865.

Wine to Water
Wine to Water meshes easily onto your holiday gift list by selling bottles of wine. A portion of the proceeds from each bottle goes directly to the organization. It's what director of events Chelsea Smalls calls a win-win.

"We are a nonprofit, and we've been one since 2007, and the mission of our organization is to provide clean water to people in developing countries," she said.

That includes implementing filters, wells and sanitation methods.

While their efforts are partially funded by wine tastings, individual donations and bottle proceeds go a long way.

"It's a great gift," Smalls said.

Only $16, bottles are available at the Wine to Water location on King Street and Peabody's Beer and Wine.

"My favorite is our red zinfandel, and I typically don't like lighter red, but it's exceptionally good, and we hear that from a lot of people," she said.

So is the cause, and it doesn't take a lot of cash to make a difference.

"Say you want to provide a filter to a family in Haiti," she said. "Just $30 provides clean water for up to five years to a family of ten."

To make a cash donation, call the office or donate online at For more information, call (828) 355-9655.

Western Youth Network
For Western Youth Network, it's been a bad two years.

"In the last two years, we have actually lost about 50 percent of our budget," executive director Jennifer Grubb said.

That $250,000 loss is thanks to the elimination of grants. Still, the WYN mission carries on.
"We have been around for 25 years," she said.

Along with providing the only after school program in Watauga County for middle-schoolers, WYN's mentoring program and substance abuse prevention program reaches several counties, services Grubb said are vital, with or without grants. That's where individual donations come in.
"Especially in years like this, people really have no idea how much good it does," she said. "We can make donations go so far. We have the capability of making kids have a brighter Christmas, not only a brighter Christmas, but a brighter life."

And small sums make a big difference.

"After-school costs $4 a day," she said, "so for $20, you could sponsor a kid to go to after-school for a week."

It's a gift that gives back in a big way. For more information, visit or call (828) 264-5174.

Blowing Rock Art and History Museum has the perfect way to cross the art lover off your gift list. On target to open in fall of 2011, BRAHM is already selling memberships, which will give recipients an all access pass to the museum and special members-only receptions.

"Your benefits will only increase as the museum gets up and going," spokeswoman Sunny Townes said. The "museum without walls" is the brainchild of a growing art community and already has quite a collection, including works of Elliott Daingerfield, an artist who brought students to the High Country in the early part of last century. But the museum is more than a gallery. It's a community space, and it doesn't need the building to emphasize the word community. This past year brought a successful lecture series and summer program, both of which will continue in 2011, and that's just the beginning.

"Just wait until we open," Townes laughed.

And, with a charter membership, your whole guest list could be on the ground floor of an experience the High Country has been waiting on for more than a decade.

For information on memberships and other ways to donate, check out or call (828) 295-9099.

Doc Watson Downtown Sculpture Project
And now for something completely different. What to get that finger-picking, foot-tapping guitar wonder in your life? How about an homage to the flat-picker himself, Doc Watson? The Downtown Boone Development Association is selling bricks to support the Doc Watson Downtown Sculpture Project.

With a $100 sponsorship, you can get your loved one's name engraved on a brick, but not just any brick. These bricks will be placed at the base of the sculpture on the corner of King and Depot streets in downtown Boone.

"These bricks will be used around the base of the sculpture so that, in the years to come, you will be able to bring your children, grandchildren and friends to the sculpture site to see your name and their names as a permanent legacy in downtown Boone," a DBDA press release stated.

And there are different levels, bronze ($300), silver ($500), gold ($1,000) and platinum ($1,500).
Platinum sponsors will have their bricks placed in front of the sculpture and receive a bronze head study of Doc Watson. For more information, visit or call (828) 265-9403.

These are just a few of the ways you can give a gift that "keeps on giving." We encourage you to contact your favorite charity and ask how you can help this holiday season.

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