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Hurricane Florence Relief Campaign




On September 28, 2018--less than two weeks following the devastation of Hurricane Florence--the Ocean Ridge Charities Association (ORCA) launched its most ambitious fundraising program in its near ten year history.  The plan’s focus: To assist the hurricane victims and the local charities which were helping with recovery efforts.


THE PLAN:  The objective of the six month¹, Hurricane Relief Plan was to raise at least $50,000 in donations of both cash and commodities for both charities and victims over a six month period of time. All ORCA non-dedicated funds were to be committed to the project. This goal was based upon income projections by ORCA board president Mike Gildea and Treasurer Claudia Piccarelli for multiple ORCA fundraising programs for the next six months from October 2018 through March of 2019. All 17 ORCA Directors also personally pledged $100 or more to the effort. On September 30, ORCA announced the campaign to the Ocean Ridge community.


RAPID RESPONSE:  Immediately ORCA donated almost all of its cash on hand--$7,500²--to three charities: Brunswick Family Assistance (BFA), Streetreach and the Red Cross for emergency food distribution and sheltering. This was followed days later by a $3,300 contribution to the Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM) for residential housing rehabilitation. These proceeds were generated by ORCA’s first ever, September 30th Murder Mystery fundraising event led by ORCA board members Corinne Eisenstein and Glenn Hess assisted by Barbara Ellenberger and Judy Cunningham. Over 130 residents attended this sell out event.


COMMODITY COLLECTIONS:  In early October, under the leadership of board members Laura Wheaton and George Briggs and assisted by Beth Naylor and Pris Lovell, ORCA quickly reorganized a long-planned community-wide, annual community Day of Service into two segments. The first was a commodity collection effort on October 6th. Over $11,000 worth of groceries, cleaning supplies, children’s diapers and gift cards were collected and delivered to BFA and Streetreach. According to BFA board vice chair Robert Talley “The nearly $15,000 in commodities and checks was one of the largest, single support effort by a Brunswick County community in our county-wide efforts,” reported.


A second, even larger ORCA event came later in the month. This time the Ocean Ridge community nearly tripled its first effort by collecting over $29,000 worth of food, toiletries, stuffed toys, clothing, furniture, linens, cleaning supplies, and various other sundries. Truckloads of hurricane relief supplies were then dispatched to local charities.

For both events:

  • Over $40,000 in commodities were collected from the nearly 300 residents of Ocean Ridge;

  • From these proceeds: $14,100 went to the Salvation Army; $9,300 to Brunswick Family Assistance, $8,300 to Streetreach, and $6,200 to Habitat for Humanity;

  • Over 100 Ocean Ridge neighbors worked nearly 500 volunteer hours to offload, sort, package and re-load all collected items onto delivery trucks.


ALL STATE GRANTS:  Through ORCA’s Corporate Sponsorship Program funded by 120 local businesses, the organization has developed a particularly close working relationship with Rusty Russ, the All State Insurance company agent in the south Brunswick County. Over the years, Rusty has donated several thousands of dollars to support ORCA’s work. For the commodity collection effort, Rusty recruited six All State employees to assist.

This resulted in a national All State Helping Hands grant of $6,000 to ORCA for our hurricane relief efforts. Former ORCA board member Mike Cunningham worked with Rusty to secure these grants.


ANNUAL CAMPAIGN:  Each year in the fall ORCA conducts its Annual Campaign—a direct mail appeal to the community to support one or more local charity. In 2017 the Annual Campaign raised $13,000. The target set for the Hurricane relief plan was $20,000. Coordinated by board president Mike Gildea and assisted by Laura Wheaton, the solicitation was mailed to 1143 Ocean Ridge property holders in late October. Treasurer Claudia Piccarelli then set up ORCA’s first on-line fundraising through PayPal. In addition to the solicitation of property owners, four board members—Mike, Corinne, Amy Kelly and Mary Perno—solicited friends, former colleagues and family members, an effort that raised over $2,000. By the end of December, the Annual Campaign had raised nearly $31,000—nearly double that of the 2017 effort and 150% above the goal set for this fundraising component of the campaign.



  • In June ORCA had launched its newest fundraising program--Change for Charities--which generates contributions for local charities from the public through countertop donation boxes at local retailers. By the late fall nearly 100 merchants were in the program. From the September start of the hurricane relief effort, nearly $3,500 was raised through Change for Charities thanks to the efforts of ORCA board members Peggy Burris, Glenn Hess, Kath Larson, Maggy Schlink, Mary Perno, George Briggs and Mike Gildea.

  • Board member Maggy Schlink arranged a special hurricane relief charity event on November 5 at La Cucina Italian Grill, a local Italian restaurant. Over 60 Ocean Ridgers attended. The owner, Matt Moen contributed 15% of the dinner receipts as well as all of the proceeds from the sales of Italian wine that were sold separately. Nearly $1,300 was raised.

  • Other donations, including $950 from ORCA’s Corporate Sponsorship Program thanks to board members Mike Lynch and Mike Cunningham along with $680 from the Ocean Ridge Out to Lunch Bunch group.


  1. The Hurricane Relief Campaign was conceived and launched on 9/28 within two weeks after the hurricane hit the coast. The first donations to local charities were dispatched that same day.

  2. In cash and commodities, ORCA raised a net $84,388 for hurricane relief in just three months—that’s the equivalent of $917 per day for each day of the campaign!

  3. This amount exceeded the overall $50,000 fundraising goal by $41,312 or 83%.

  4. Cash contributions amounted to over $44,000; Commodity assistance donations were $40,087.

  5. Overall, fundraising expenses were limited to $2,620 or 2.3% of the total amount raised.

  6. Cash contributions met or exceeded hurricane plan projections in five out of six categories.

  7. Income from the Annual Campaign exceeded projections by over $11,000 or nearly 150%.

  8. Corporate support amounted to $12,231 from four sources: $6,000 from the All State Insurance grants, $4,011 from Change for Charities, $1,270 from the La Cucina event and $950 from Corporate Sponsors.

  9. All 17 ORCA Directors fulfilled their original pledge by donating nearly $3,000 to the campaign.

  10. The campaign directly assisted 14 local charities and 12 individuals whose homes were destroyed including three employees of Ocean Ridge.

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