Chapel Hill-Carrboro residents are stepping up to help their neighbors in need this holiday season.
People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Homes (PORCH) is a local charity organization that collects food donations from neighborhoods in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
PORCH Co-director Christine Cotton said by just making an effort to raise awareness of its collections for the holiday season, the organization was able to increase its November collections by 70 percent compared to their normal average.
“We decided to just do our best to increase awareness for the holiday season,” Cotton said. “We know that holiday time is when the pantries are stressed the most.”
PORCH has been collecting donations once a month from residents’ porches since last May through coordinators who organize donations on their street or within their neighborhoods.
These donations are delivered to five food pantries around Carrboro and Chapel Hill, including the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service’s food pantry.
PORCH currently collects donations from almost 700 households in 63 neighborhoods in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
“Mostly it’s just been people who have been so happy to be involved in this just telling their friends,” Cotton said.
“Then these neighborhoods just start popping up.”
Caroline Jones, a neighborhood coordinator for PORCH, oversees donations in the Glen Lennox area and said her experience with the group has been extremely positive.
Jones became involved with PORCH when Cotton, one of her running partners, co-founded the organization.
“People keep saying to me that they appreciate that I’ve organized this for the neighborhood,” she said. “People want to participate, and this is a great way to help their local community.”
Since PORCH was featured in a November article in Redbook magazine, interest in PORCH organizations has grown to seven states, Cotton said.
She said a PORCH group in California completed its first collection this month.
The Inter-Faith Council’s Executive Director Chris Moran said PORCH is an excellent vehicle that helps nonprofit organizations to help each other.
“I think PORCH is an incredible model where people know that foods are to be put out at a specific time,” he said. “It’s neighborhoods organizing neighbors to put food out on their porches, a very different idea compared to how we normally collect food.”
Cotton said the organization is doing its best to stick to its mission — helping neighbors in need.
“That’s why it’s grown so well and so quickly,” she said.
“Because it’s just that simple.”
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