Sending Christmas cards is a seasonal tradition. This year, why not send a Christmas card that makes an impact on the lives of the less fortunate? North Carolina artist William Mangum’s Honor Card program raises awareness and funds to meet the needs of the homeless.
“He’s trying to bring to the forefront homeless veterans, because there are so many,” said Melissa Barker, board member for United Community Ministries in Rocky Mount.
This year’s image, called “The Climb,” depicts a homeless veteran walking uphill on a snowy path to meet with his support group in a church. The inside of the card features three veterans Mangum encountered in a homeless shelter in the western part of the state.
Honor cards are available for a minimum donation of $5 each at Providence Bank at 325 Main St. in Tarboro.
Recipients of the cards receive notification that the sender has made a donation to an outreach agency on their behalf. In the Edgecombe County area, proceeds will benefit United Community Ministries, a non-profit organization offering emergency shelter and transitional housing at the Bassett Center, located at 916 Branch St. in Rocky Mount, in addition to operating a soup kitchen for the needy.
“Edgecombe County and Nash County are suffering with a lot of unemployment and people lose their homes or they lose electricity in their homes. It’s a sad time,” Barker said, noting that the closing of the Merita Bread Bakery in Rocky Mount in November left a couple of hundred more persons without a job.
The Bassett Center currently houses 11 families and there is “always a waiting list,” according to Barker. Last year, the community shelter housed 390 individuals – 293 men and 97 women. The soup kitchen serves a hot lunch to anyone in need in the community every day, in addition to serving breakfast and dinner to those housed in the shelter.
“Once you enter our program, you’re not allowed to wander the streets anymore. It’s a program set up to make responsible citizens so you do not become homeless again,” Barker said, adding that the ministry offers financial and spiritual counseling to homeless individuals, as well as help obtaining a GED.
Mangum created his first Honor Card image in 1988, to help the Greensboro Urban Ministry in his hometown. Since then, the Honor Card program has raised more than $4 million to support homeless agencies across the state.
“He [Mangum] just doesn’t paint the pictures. He does the Good Samaritan work. He’s actually out there handing out food and meeting people,” Barker said.
Honor Card donations raised about $5,000 for United Community Ministries last year. Barker said she would like to see that number double this year. All the money donated will go into the ministry’s general fund for basic operational costs.