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Make A Difference Day (M.A.D.D.)



Two weeks after Hurricane Florence slammed into the North Carolina Coast, the Ocean Ridge Charities Association Inc. (ORCA) rolled into action to support relief efforts in Brunswick County.

The Charity announced a twofold effort: a commodity collection plan and a fundraising campaign that commits all dollars ORCA raises over the next six months for victims’ assistance. “We know that hurricane recovery will take many months, even years of hard work. It’s not over just because the headlines are gone. Too many of those whose lives have been shattered will still need our help,” said ORCA’s founding President Mike Gildea.

Immediately the organization donated over $12,000 to several local charities already on the front lines of recovery efforts—Brunswick Family Assistance (BFA), Brunswick County Streetreach, the local Red Cross and the Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministries.

In early October ORCA quickly reorganized a long-planned Ocean Ridge community-wide annual Day of Service into two segments. The first was a commodity collection effort. Over $11,000 worth of groceries, cleaning supplies, children’s diapers and gift cards were collected and delivered to BFA and Streetreach. “It was the largest, single support effort by a Brunswick County community in the early stages of our efforts,” reported Robert Talley, a BFA board member.

The 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 the local Habitat for Humanity, Streetreach, Salvation Army and Brunswick Homeless Coalition.

ORCA board members Laura Wheaton and George Briggs, co-chairs for both events, were overwhelmed. “The generosity of the Ocean Ridge community never ceases to amaze me. But this went well beyond our wildest expectations,” Wheaton emphasized. According to Briggs, “During these events the carloads of donations from the community just kept coming and coming. After six hours it seemed like there would be no end to it. Almost 200 collections and drop-offs were made by Ocean Ridge residents.”

Wheaton noted that for the two events, over 100 Ocean Ridge neighbors worked nearly 500 volunteer hours to offload, sort, package, box and reload all collected items onto delivery trucks.  “Without them and their compassion, we would never have completed this remarkable task!” said Wheaton.

Last year’s Ocean Ridge Community Day of Service raised over $20,000 in merchandise for resale at six thrift stores affiliated with ORCA-supported charities. For that effort, the ORCA received a national, $10,000 award from the Make A Difference Day (MADD) foundation--one of only 13 organizations out of over 800 applicants nationwide and the only charity in the Carolinas to receive such recognition.

“The $40,000 in collections in just the last four weeks is an amazing result but our efforts to fundraise for hurricane victims will continue into 2019,” Gildea noted.

ORCA is a tax exempt, non-profit corporation located within the Ocean Ridge Plantation development in southeast Brunswick County. The community is home to nearly 850 full and part-time households with over nearly 1,600 residents who are predominantly retirees. Organized in 2009-10, the award winning organization has raised over $400,000.

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The Ocean Ridge Plantation Goes M.A.D.D.

Raises $20,000 for Charity Thrift Stores


Add together 1 community and 100 volunteers and 1100 articles of clothing/golf merchandise and 26,000 used golf balls and the total will equal 1 truly amazing community service activity.

Thrift stores in the South Brunswick area play an integral role in supporting our schools, troubled teens, the homeless, victims of abuse, and those who are financially unstable.  With this in mind, the members of the Ocean Ridge Charities Association Inc (ORCA) asked each other, “Why not embrace these worthwhile causes with a community-wide service program for the annual National Make A Difference Day?”  That question was answered with an idea that germinated into what became Ocean Ridge Goes M.A.D.D. for Make a Difference Day.  The six local thrift stores who were the benefactors of the all the volunteers’ labors included:  Providence Home, Hope Harbor, Brunswick Family Assistance, Brunswick Senior Resource Inc., Community in Schools and Habitat for Humanity.

Make A Difference Day is one of the largest annual single days of service nationwide.  This year’s event took place on October 28 and the residents of the Ocean Ridge Plantation were among the many volunteers across the country giving of their time to help make an impact on their community.   ORCA’s intent with this first-time endeavor was to inspire the residents of our community to work together for one day, for one cause.  Under the direction of committee members George Briggs, Laura Wheaton, Corinne Eisenstein, Kath Larson, Pris Lovell and Beth Naylor, and with the assistance of the men’s and ladies’ golf leagues, their objective was to engage over 100 resident volunteers in a hands-on charitable activity – Ocean Ridge Goes M.A.D.D. – and by day’s end, they surpassed that goal.  Grace Loyack, an emeritus ORCA member stated, “It is hard to believe how ORCA has evolved from 5 or 6 people discussing charitable endeavors to an organization that encompassed so many people and so many charities.”

Since April, the OR Goes M.A.D.D. committee has been collecting and cleaning used golf balls from residents in their community.  With an initial goal of 15,000 balls, they were ecstatic when the end number was close to 26,000!  On October 28, for over 8 hours, the 100 plus volunteers from Ocean Ridge met at the Plantation’s Nature Pavilion to sort, bag and price the thousands of golf balls.  Volunteer Mike Dies commented, “It was a great way to meet neighbors, enjoy the day and help others at the same time.  I think half of these found golf balls were mine at one time.”  On that day they also collected and organized hundreds golf related items including shirts, hats, golf bags and clubs, etc. and readied them for the racks at the six thrift stores. The setting for the day was a festive one that kindled the spirit of giving.  Like a well-oiled machine, the volunteers arrived in 2-hour shifts, took to their stations, and completed their share of the day’s huge task.   By the end of the afternoon, the thrift stores arrived to pick-up almost $20,000 worth of merchandise for resale to support each of their charities.  Volunteers Barbara Bronneck and Brenda Hess shared, “It was so nice to be a part of the camaraderie of the day.”

Whether it’s starting a project that helps one person or working on one that benefits a whole community, every contribution makes a difference.  The Ocean Ridge Charities Association Inc. is a non-profit, tax exempt corporation established within the community of Ocean Ridge Plantation to identify charitable needs within Brunswick County and to support them through increased fundraising and volunteer participation.  


ORCA President Mike Gildea shared, “We were so proud to be a part of Make A Difference Day by successfully leading our own community service activity. I know the committee is already looking forward to exceeding this undertaking with an even greater effort next year.”



2017 Make A Difference Day Award Winner!

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