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Therapeudic horseback riding helping kids with special needs

"So many people look at people with disabilities and think of what they can’t do and he’s showing them what we can do,” Sandra Adams about Mitey Riders said.
Credit: Mitey Riders

Nearly 1,000 kids have been transformed through the power of therapeutic horseback riding with the nonprofit Mitey Riders, located on 83 acres of land off Providence Road in Union County.

Donate money to Mitey Riders

Twenty-seven years ago, founder Harry Swimmer met a girl with special needs. He invited her to his barn.

"I said, 'I wonder what she'd be like on a horse,'" Swimmer recalled. "And I put her on a horse. And boy, she lit up. And I said 'This is for me.'"

Children with special needs are invited to the barn to ride for therapy, free of charge. And once a child starts, they never age out. The Mitey Riders program lets them come for all long as they want, for free.

"Horses are amazing animals," Swimmer said. "They know what's going on. I had a great big horse, and I had a child on the horse. And it was in the ring, and I was working the class. All of a sudden, we turned around and looked, and a horse stopped dead in his tracks. And we went over, and the little boy was having a seizure. The horse knew before we did."

All students ride the horses free of charge thanks to generous donations to the nonprofit Mitey Riders from the community. WCNC Charlotte, the TEGNA Foundation, Steel Skin Realty and the Parham Family Charitable Fund have donated $5,000 to Mitey Riders. If you’d like to make a difference and donate money to horseback therapy for special needs kids, click here.

=== Our August 2022 spotlight ===

Donate money to help Clear The Shelters

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control is asking for the public's help as rising pet intake, staffing shortages and population growth in Charlotte put the shelter in "crisis" mode.

After the COVID-19 lockdown drove intake numbers down and more families to adopt new pets, the center is now facing a perfect storm of straining factors: A rising human population, also bringing new pets to the area, the highest intake numbers in years and staffing shortages.  

RELATED: How to help animal shelters, rescues in the Carolinas

Clear The Shelters is an annual, nationwide pet adoption and shelter donation campaign that is spearheaded by NBCUniversal Local, a division of NBCUniversal. Each year, NBCUniversal Local’s NBC- and Telemundo-owned stations, plus affiliated stations, partner with animal shelters and rescues in their communities to host Clear The Shelters events. 

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

Donate money to help Clear The Shelters

This year, Clear the Shelters was a month-long campaign, finding homes for animals across the Charlotte area who need a forever family. Donations can be made online with 100% of the money going to the shelter or rescue. WCNC Charlotte has teamed up with 13 shelters and rescues to support the annual adoption campaign. 

=== Our July 2022 spotlight ===

Gift wish list items to help families in need

For just a few dollars, you can make a personal hygiene kit for Charlotte area nonprofits to help the homeless.

Gift items from 1CAN's Amazon Smile Wish List

An estimated 22% of Cabarrus County residents are food insecure and one in five children go hungry. WCNC Charlotte is working with 1CAN, a nonprofit that serves those in need in Cabarrus County. The nonprofit has a total of seven Blessing Boxes in Concord and Kannapolis. A Blessing Box is similar to a little free library, only it is filled with food and toiletry items. Those in need can take the items at no cost.  

Sheryl Kluge founded the nonprofit in 2019 and said the need is even greater now than during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteers with 1CAN restock the boxes, sometimes daily. Their boxes at Rotary Square, Fire Station 4 in Concord and boxes at Cabarrus Health Alliance and Fire Station1 in Kannapolis remain the busiest boxes that serve many people daily. 

1CAN needs donations of food and personal hygiene items. Items can be purchased from their Amazon Smile wish list.

WCNC Charlotte, the TEGNA Foundation, Steel Skin Realty and the Parham Family Charitable Fund donated $5,000 to 1CAN to help neighbors in need.

WCNC Charlotte also purchased personal hygiene items and assembled them into bags to distribute in Blessing Boxes.

A simple hygiene kit includes the following:

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Soap
  • Shampoo

Items can be sample size or full and should be placed in a sealed Ziplock bag.

Additional suggested items to include:

  • Deodorant
  • Washcloth
  • Wipes
  • Band-aids
  • Lotion
  • Combs
  • Women’s sanitary products
  • Chapstick
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Hats
  • Q Tips
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Do not include razors since they can be used to hurt someone

The nonprofit also needs help keeping the boxes stocked. They will provide the food, but they need volunteers to go and straighten and stock. It takes about 15 minutes. Those able to volunteer their time can contact Sheryl at 843-330-0525 or sheryl@your1can.org. 

In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, families affected by food insecurity skyrocketed, and another three Blessing Boxes boxes were added in other areas within Cabarrus County bringing the total to seven. 1CAN was able to assist families with over 20,000 food and personal hygiene items in 2020.

=== Our June 2022 spotlight ===

Ada Jenkins Center

COVID-19 changed everything, and vulnerable neighbors need help more than ever before. 

The Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, North Carolina, helps prevent food and housing insecurity and provides families with educational, career and financial resources.

Purchase items from the Ada Jenkins Amazon wish list, and the items will be sent directly to the nonprofit.  High-priority items include bug spray, sunscreen, rain ponchos and hats.

WCNC Charlotte, the TEGNA Foundation, Steel Skin Realty and the Parham Family Charitable Fund donated $5,000 to the Ada Jenkins Center to help neighbors in need.

=== Our May 2022 spotlight ===

Carolinas Metro Reds

Carolinas Metro Reds is a nonprofit in Charlotte that helps underserved youth play baseball. The Carolinas Metro Reds provides a diverse, family environment for underserved youth to develop their baseball, academic and life skills by way of high-level coaching, teaching and mentorship.

Baseball is a national pastime, a team sport that millions of youth have enjoyed and benefitted from for over a century. However, baseball is out of reach for many families in Charlotte as it is no longer affordable. Many families can't pay the team fees that provide access to baseball fields, equipment, and coaching.  But through Carolinas Metro Reds, hundreds of youth are able to take the field.

A donation of $50 supports one player for a season with Carolinas Metro Reds.

WCNC Charlotte, the TEGNA Foundation, Steel Skin Realty and the Parham Family Charitable Fund will match up to the first $5,000 donated to Carolinas Metro Reds..

DONATE to Carolinas Metro Reds

Morris Madden, a former MLB left-handed pitcher, is the founder and President of the Carolinas Metro Reds.  For years, Morris noticed a concerning lack of growth among young African-American players in baseball. Not nearly enough kids under the age of eighteen had the awareness or access to the game of baseball and he knew that he had to help. Shortly after his MLB playing career, he decided it was time to take an active role in being a part of the solution.  

There are currently almost 200 players in the organization and additional funding will help additional underserved players and families to participate in baseball, and also benefit from the life skills and education support provided.

SEE OUR COVERAGECarolinas Metro Reds tees up west Charlotte kids for success

=== Our April 2022 spotlight ===

Hickory Public Schools Education Foundation

Dozens of teachers in Hickory Public Schools applied for grant money to help meet educational needs in the classroom.  

But due to the pandemic, Hickory Public Schools Education Foundation hasn't been able to host a fundraiser for the past two years. That means funds are limited.

It's hard to tell a teacher no when they're trying to help better student education, but the foundation has been forced to turn down teacher requests.  

The foundation was elated to learn they could say yes to teacher requests thanks to WCNC Charlotte, the TEGNA Foundation, Steel Skin Realty and the Parham Family Charitable Fund's donation of $5,000.

But there are more teachers asking for money and that's where you come in. Donate now to help fund teacher requests through the Hickory Public Schools Education Foundation.

Donate to Hickory Public Schools Education Foundation

Teacher Daniel Ernenwein of Longview Elementary School received grant money so he can purchase books for his bilingual class so kids can go home and exchange from English to Spanish with their parents.

Teachers Laura Marvin and Dorothy Dalton received grant money so both of their classrooms at Oakwood Elementary School could expand on science.

“This money will go for hands-on science that will help students actually touch, feel, manipulate the curriculum,” Marvin said.

All money donated goes toward making a difference in the classroom for students.

=== Our March 2022 spotlight ===

Beatties Ford Road Vocational Center

The Beatties Ford Road Vocational Center has a waitlist of more than 300 people interested in taking their trade classes.  They can't afford to pay to attend classes, so they're waitlisted until the nonprofit has enough funding to grant them a scholarship.

DONATE to Beatties Ford Road Vocational Center

Beatties Ford Road Vocational Center provides students who are chronically underemployed or unemployed with skills in traditional and non-traditional trades that will enable them to obtain permanent employment and compete for advancement in the job market.  Make a difference by donating to help young man or woman who has dropped out of high school to get a second chance of getting their high school diploma and a trade.  A $50 donation could help purchase a required training textbook.  

WCNC Charlotte, the TEGNA Foundation, Steel Skin Realty and the Parham Family Charitable Fund will match up to the first $5,000 donated.

SEE OUR COVERAGE: Beatties Ford trade school seeking solutions to help more trade students

=== Our February 2022 spotlight ===

The Academy of Goal Achievers

The Academy of Goal Achievers, a Charlotte-based nonprofit, has impacted the lives of over 500 local high school students by providing mentorship and programming for them to prepare them for life after high school.

DONATE to The Academy of Goal Achievers

The Academy of Goal Achievers helps students learn life skills they don't usually get in the classroom to help them get to that next level: college or a trade. 

But they can't do it without your help. Can you volunteer as a career coach? Or do you work for a company that could offer job shadowing or an internship? You can also make a difference by donating money to help fund the program. WCNC Charlotte, the TEGNA Foundation, the Parham Family Charitable Fund and Steel Skin Realty will match up to the first $5,000.

Donations go to support programs to eliminate financial barriers, pay the tuition gap, pay for books and tutoring.  A donation of $35 will support of tutoring session for a student.  

SEE OUR COVERAGE: Charlotte mentorship program wants to change students' mindsets, increase resources

Credit: WCNC

=== Our January 2022 spotlight ===

Scouting For Food

WCNC Charlotte teamed up with the Boy Scouts of America to help fight hunger in the community through the Scouting For Food drive.  

Scouts collected donations in the following counties: Mecklenburg, York, Lancaster, Anson, Union, Cabarrus, Rowan and Stanly. 

In the small town of Clover in York, South Carolina, donations benefited the Clover Area Assistance Center.

DONATE to Clover Area Assistance Center

Karen Van Vierssen is the director of the Clover Area Assistance Center. Tax credits and extra benefits ended Dec. 31, 2021.  Van Vierssen said they’re expecting more people will turn to them this month for help. 

"People don’t want to ask for help, but reality is starting to hit," she said.

Scouting For Food helped fill their shelves with much-needed donations.  The Clover Area Assistance Center provides food for approximately 180 households a month.

If you would like to donate money instead, make a difference by donating online to the Clover Area Assistance Center. WCNC Charlotte and the TEGNA Foundation will match up to the first $2,500 donated.

SEE OUR COVERAGE:  South Carolina food pantry counting on Boy Scouts to help feed hungry families

Credit: WCNC

=== Our December 2021 spotlight ===

She Built This City

Nearly two million women have dropped out of the labor force amid the pandemic. How will they come back?

A nonprofit based in west Charlotte is trying to make a difference. It’s called She Built This City and was founded by Demi Knight Clark, a residential construction industry executive for over 20 years.  They empower women and girls in the construction and manufacturing trades.

DONATE to She Built This City

You can help by making a donation. $25 provides one youth experience in the explorer kids program to spark interest in construction and maker trades.

A $50 provides one youth with an opportunity to learn 3D printing, virtual reality and other 2030 technology pathways.

WCNC Charlotte and the TEGNA Foundation will match up to the first $2,000 donated.  

SEE OUR COVERAGENonprofit training women in construction: She Built This City

=== Our November 2021 spotlight ===

PATH, Inc.

PATH, Inc. is making a difference in York County by providing Thanksgiving meals to those in need this holiday.  The non-profit needs to distribute a total of 125 boxes of food for Thanksgiving to families in western York County.  But they need donations to help make that happen.

DONATE to PATH to help this Thanksgiving

WCNC Charlotte and the TEGNA Foundation will match up to the first $2,000 donated.  

SEE OUR COVERAGEYork County organization needs help feeding people in need

After Thanksgiving, the nonprofit starts working on distributing food boxes for Christmas.  So no matter how much money you donate, it all goes back to the community.

=== Our October 2021 spotlight ===

Camino Health Center

Camino Health Center is a bilingual and multicultural health center located in west Charlotte that provides excellent and affordable integrated care to underinsured and uninsured populations. Its mission is to equip people to live truly healthy lives.  

DONATE to Camino Health Center

At Camino, they believe nutrition is a key component to living a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, many people don’t have access to food, let alone meals rich in nutrients. It’s through their Food Pantry, called “The Food Farmacy”, that they help alleviate food insecurity in our community. A $25 donation will help feed one person for a week.

SEE OUR COVERAGE:  How to help fight food insecurity in Charlotte

=== Our August and September 2021 spotlight ===

The month-long WCNC Charlotte Clear The Shelters event ended September 18 with a fantastic adoption day.

Making a difference in the Charlotte area, TEGNA Foundation and WCNC Charlotte donated a total of $11,000 to Clear The Shelters. Each shelter and rescue will receive $1,000.  A total of $21,000 was raised and more than 240 pets were adopted.

SEE OUR COVERAGE:  Animals find fur-ever homes on Clear The Shelters Day

There are a variety of shelters in our area that participated. The goal was to make a difference in the animal community to help them adopt all of their animals and raise money to support their shelter.

=== Our June 2021 spotlight ===

Carolinas Metro Reds

Carolinas Metro Reds is a nonprofit in Charlotte that helps underserved youth play baseball.  The Carolinas Metro Reds provides a diverse, family environment for underserved youth to develop their baseball, academic and life skills by way of high-level coaching, teaching and mentorship.

Baseball is a national pastime, a team sport that millions of youth have enjoyed and benefitted from for over a century.  However,  baseball is out of reach for many families in Charlotte as it is no longer affordable.  Many families can't pay the team fees that provide access to baseball fields, equipment, and coaching.  But through Carolinas Metro Reds, hundreds of youth are able to take the field.

A donation of $50 supports one player for a season with Carolinas Metro Reds.

WCNC Charlotte will match up to the first $2,000 donated to Carolinas Metro Reds.

DONATE to Carolinas Metro Reds

Morris Madden, a former MLB left-handed pitcher, is the founder and President of the Carolinas Metro Reds.  For years, Morris noticed a concerning lack of growth among young African-American players in baseball. Not nearly enough kids under the age of eighteen had the awareness or access to the game of baseball and he knew that he had to help. Shortly after his MLB playing career, he decided it was time to take an active role in being a part of the solution.  

There are currently almost 200 players in the organization and additional funding will help additional underserved players and families to participate in baseball, and also benefit from the life skills and education support provided.

In 2020, WCNC Charlotte and the TEGNA Foundation awarded Carolina Metro Reds a grant, which supported two entire teams for a season of baseball.

SEE OUR COVERAGECarolinas Metro Reds tees up west Charlotte kids for success

=== Our May 2021 spotlight ===

Esther's Heart

Help feed hungry children in the community. Esther's Heart Backpacks of Hope Program is in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Cabarrus County School Systems. 

DONATE to Esther's Heart

Esther's Heart receives applications ongoing throughout the school year and needs support from the community to make this happen continually. Backpacks of Hope provides meals for the entire weekend for the youth.

SEE OUR COVERAGE: Esther's Heart helps feed children across the Charlotte area

=== Our April 2021 spotlight ===

For The Struggle, Inc.

Help seniors stay in their homes by donating to For The Struggle, Inc, a nonprofit that focuses on advocating for homeowners at risk of losing their property to gentrification.  

DONATE to For the Struggle, Inc.

The Elder Response Initiative provides free services to seniors in historically and predominately black neighborhoods, primarily Charlotte's Beatties Ford Road corridor.  

The initiative was created by For The Struggle, Inc. because Charlotte has experienced rapid gentrification that has heightened the risk of displacement, particularly on the corridor. The corridor has a large senior population at risk of displacement. As such, the initiative provides seniors with assistance in obtaining critical home repairs; future planning (e.g. wills, powers of attorney); and property tax relief.   

SEE OUR COVERAGECharity battling gentrification in Charlotte's historic Black neighborhoods

=== Our March Spotlight ===

Turning Point

One in four families we know is impacted by domestic violence. It’s a startling statistic. And because of the pandemic, victims are in isolation from their abusers. 

Turning Point is a nonprofit in Monroe that is a safe shelter for women and children who have experienced domestic violence. They’re in need of financial donations. 

SEE OUR COVERAGE: Monroe domestic violence shelter needs your donations

Make a difference and help those trapped in domestic violence. Donate now by texting the word MONROE to 50155 or you go online to donate.

=== Our February 2021 spotlight ===

Bountiful Blessings Food Pantry

WCNC Charlotte is teaming up with the United Way of Gaston County to make a difference for an organization in need.

Bountiful Blessings Food Pantry served about 300 people per week before COVID-19 hit. Now, volunteers are serving nearly 4,000 a week and need upgraded equipment to keep feeding the community. 

SEE OUR COVERAGEMake A Difference: Bountiful Blessings receives $10,000 donation from Junior League

Donations can be made online or you can text BOUNTIFUL to 71777.

Making a difference

With millions of people turning to charitable nonprofits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, WCNC Charlotte is raising awareness of nonprofits in the Carolinas that are in desperate need of help.  Additional funds are needed in an effort to continue to serve those who need it most. 

Each month, WCNC Charlotte will share information about a nonprofit making a difference in the community. These nonprofits are all 501c3 verified through the IRS. If you are in a position to give, any donation amount can make an impact.

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.


https://miteyriders.org/donate/

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