Charitable giving for nonprofits and churches in Haywood County is about to become much more efficient thanks to the implementation of the Charity Tracker internet service. 

There’s a road in Waynesville called the homeless highway. It runs from Frog Level to Hazelwood and during any given week, you’ll see folks walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The end points of this beaten path are The Open Door and Haywood Pathways Center, two establishments offering physical and spiritual nourishment to weary souls.

There are still plenty of children in need this Christmas in Swain County and your donation to the Swain County Family Resource Center could help.

I don’t really want to go into the domestic circumstances that led up to it, but even though I had no car, no money, no work and now, nowhere to live, I walked down our darkened driveway in the middle of the cold starry night with little more than the clothes on my back.

Worse than the dearth of resources, I had no social support structure, and with no real knowledge of the resources available to someone in a short-term housing crisis, there I was, standing in a Maggie Valley gas station mere moments into Thanksgiving Day, in a short-term housing crisis.

With so many charities working to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, many Western North Carolina residents are curious about the best way to help.

As the sturdy old stake-bed dump truck — held together largely with rusty steel coat hangers — scrambled up the mountain laden with over a cord of firewood, the man behind the wheel finally found the address and pulled up the driveway.

Although Richard Reeves has spent the last 12 years splitting wood in an empty lot off Lea Plant Road in Hazelwood, he certainly hasn’t been alone in that endeavor; a plethora of locals — in that paradoxical individualistic, communal mountaineer spirit — give what they can, when they can, how they can.

Until last year, the old house languishing on Academy Street on Bryson City United Methodist Church’s property was seen as a nuisance.

Armed with five-gallon buckets and a groundswell of energy, 14 teens from Balsam-based SOAR Camp descended on Eugene Christopher’s Waynesville farm this month with a simple task before them — feed the hungry of Haywood County by collecting as many potatoes as possible. 

Clouds hung low over the waning daylight Nov. 11, air slightly hazier than usual from the smoke of nearby wildfires. The leafless November scene could have been a bleak one but for the liveliness of the soundscape, which featured the back-and-forth banter of high school kids freed from the rules of volume control that govern a typical school day. The rumbling of Christopher’s tractor served as the background to their shouts as he traversed the rows, turning the soil for harvest.

It was nighttime in the White Mountains, and Steve Claxton was pretty sure he wouldn’t make it till morning. Rain was falling, and winds were ripping through his campsite at 90 miles per hour, sharpening the 40-degree temperatures like a knife. He’d known that camping above treeline was a bad idea, but an incoming storm had forced him to do it — now he was afraid it was the last thing he would ever do. 

“At Mount Washington there’s a huge wall of people who died in the White Mountains, most of them in July and August and most of them from hypothermia,” Claxton said. “I really thought they were going to have to add my name to that.”

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