The simple things

Gifts and more: ‘Tis the season for toys, but Salvation Army volunteers also collect and distribute the basic items. photo by Bill Rhodes

Too many people in the Asheville area and across Western North Carolina lack jobs, a home or even food to eat (the Asheville metro area is the seventh-hardest-hit in the country in terms of hunger). And of course, the needs become particularly acute in winter.

Thankfully, many local nonprofits are working to address these problems. Here are some starting points for how you can help provide food and shelter to those who need it, or get help yourself.

MANNA FoodBank

“There's dozens of things happening, people doing food drives all over the community. We help coordinate that, especially the main initiative we do, which is the Ingles Giving Tree. People can also come by and volunteer at any time.” — Joshua Stack, communications director.

What they do: Link the food industry with 231 partner agencies in 16 WNC counties.

What they need: Donations of food (at the Ingles Giving Tree barrels in all Ingles stores or at the Giving Tree in the Asheville Mall). Volunteers at MANNA’s Asheville facility (627 Swannanoa River Road). Ingles has also promised to match up to $25,000 in donations to MANNA through Dec. 25.

Wanna help? For more information, call 299-3663 or visit

Need help? MANNA doesn't usually provide services directly; instead, it distributes food to partner organizations. To learn how to receive food from one of those agencies, call 211 or 252-4357.

Partners: ABCCM, Asheville Housing Authority, Helpmate, many local churches, Just Economics, local homeless shelters, the ARC of Buncombe County, I Have A Dream Foundation, etc.

Meals on Wheels of Asheville & Buncombe County

“We want to keep someone happy in their own home as long as possible. You can feed a senior for a year for less than one day's cost of staying in the hospital. It's really important to keep our seniors cared for, safe at home and connected with the world.” — Executive Director Dianne Trammel

What they do: Provide warm meals, gifts and other goods to the homebound elderly.

What they need: Shoebox-size gifts or small gift bags, personal-care items, socks, slippers. Volunteers to deal with the increased demand during the holidays.

Wanna help? Check the website (, call 253-5286 or drop by the Asheville office (146 Victoria Road).

Need help? Call 253-5286 and they'll send a caseworker with an application. If approved, service will begin within 48 hours.

Partners: Buncombe County Department of Social Services, Mission Hospital, Blue Ridge Group Homes, CarePartners.

Salvation Army of Asheville

“The Salvation Army of Asheville administers many programs and services designed to restore broken lives, build healthy relationships, and develop and encourage people of all ages. We are more than just the bell-ringers you see at Christmas or the family stores you see around town.” — from the group's website.

What they do: Diverse projects include homeless shelters, youth programs, transitional housing, addiction rehabilitation and more.

What they need: Volunteers to support their Angel Trees at the Asheville Mall during business hours, through Dec. 16. Volunteers to help prepare, serve and clean up after lunch and dinner on Christmas Day. Donations of vehicles, furniture, clothing and money.

Wanna help? For more information, check the website ( or call 253-4723.

Need help? Visit the Asheville Center of Hope (204 Haywood St.) or call the above number.

Partners: United Way, Boys and Girls Club of Buncombe County, MANNA FoodBank.

Homeward Bound

“[Our] mission is working with others to end the cycle of homelessness. Through demonstrated commitment to collaborating with other community agencies and partners, Homeward Bound makes a sustainable impact on homelessness in Asheville every day.” — mission statement.

What they do: Run the A HOPE Day Center, PATH outreach team for homeless mentally ill people, Room in the Inn mobile women's shelter, Hope to Home support program and Pathways to Permanent Housing initiative.

What they need: Volunteers, financial support, donations of food, towels, toiletries and more.

Wanna help? Go to or call 258-1695.

Need help? Their offices are located at 19 N. Ann St.

Partners: United Way, Mission Hospital, HomeTrust Bank, Community Foundation of WNC.

United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County

“Our Vision: A strong, caring community. Our Mission: To strengthen our community by helping people improve their lives and care for one another.” — United Way website.

What they do: Coordinate the activities of a wide array of partner agencies to help in the areas of education, health and income.

What they need: The organization’s Hands On Asheville-Buncombe initiative links willing hearts and hands with dozens of local opportunities for holiday volunteering or donations.

Wanna help? Go to or call 255-0696.

Need help? Dial 211 for a list of United Way and partner-agency initiatives available to help those in need.

Partners: Salvation Army, ABCCM, WNCAP, Meals on Wheels and many other local nonprofits and government agencies.

Asheville Housing Authority

“The Housing Authority's mission is to continue to provide affordable, decent, safe and sanitary housing … to low and moderate-income persons; to eliminate blighted areas and preserve the housing stock; … and to seek funding sources [for] families and individuals that cannot be served under present federal programs.” — mission statement.

What they do: Own and operate 1,500 public-housing units in 10 developments throughout Asheville; provide vouchers for more than 1,350 units of private rental housing.

What they need: Donations of "stocking stuffer" items (apples, oranges, candy canes, assorted holiday treats, 2012 calendars, etc.) to fill gift bags for Woodfin Apartments residents. Donations can be dropped off at the Housing Authority offices (165 S. French Broad Ave. in Asheville).

Wanna help? Call 257-2653.

Need help? Go to 165 S. French Broad Ave. Mon. through Thurs., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and fill out an application.

Partners: Buncombe County Department of Social Services, city of Asheville, United Way.

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