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The Daily Tar Heel

Donations from local businesses keep Occupy Chapel Hill alive

After more than a month and a half, Occupy Chapel Hill is going strong — powered not only by their beliefs, but also by donations from local businesses.

The movement, which has occupied Peace and Justice Plaza since Oct. 15, has received more than $1,200 in cash donations from local businesses and residents, occupier Steve Peterson said.

According to Stephanie Daugherty, who has been involved with the movement since it began, the group has spent $236 on food, $132 on supplies and tents, $60 on laundry and $30 on photocopies in the month and a half since it started.

Occupiers have said their main costs are water, tarps, laundry, food and tobacco.

Donations to pay for the items have come from many sources, like the group’s website, passersby and occupiers themselves.

Local shops and restaurants have also supplied food and other necessities to the movement — keeping costs low for protesters.

Vimala Rajendran, owner of Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, donated hot meals to the movement two times in November, according to the Occupy Chapel Hill website.

“They asked for food, and we responded,” she said. “I believe in feeding the hungry because food is a human right.”

Rajendran said her decision to donate stemmed from her support of non-violent social justice movements.

“They start small but they can make a real change, just like Gandhi overthrew the British empire in India,” she said.

Other businesses and donors that wish to contribute can refer to a list of needed items on the Occupy Chapel Hill website.

Those that have already answered the occupiers’ call include Mediterranean Deli, Weaver Street Market and Caffe Driade, Peterson said.

Donors will not be able to get tax cuts for their donations, because Occupy Chapel Hill is not a registered non-profit, Rajendran said.

Jamil Kadoura, owner of Mediterranean Deli, said he donates because he supports Occupy’s philosophy.

“I think it’s a very good thing they’re doing for society,” he said. “They asked and we gave. If they asked again, we’d do it again.”

But not all businesses are as supportive of the movement.

“They have been very, very rude to us,” said Alan Corpus, owner of Salon 135, which the movement’s website previously said was a donor but Corpus says is not. “They kept randomly calling us and asking for donations, but they don’t even have a tax ID number.”

The group also faces other problems — Daugherty said the protesters lost $83 to theft, causing changes to camp operations.

“This isn’t a safe place to have money and things lying around,” Daugherty said. “We’ve had bad luck with theft, so we’re asking people to mail us donations instead of dropping them by.”

According to Occupy Chapel Hill documents, the group now has $586.29.

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