Dorcas Ministries: Winter 2021 Donation Needs

Cary, NC — With a mission to assist Cary neighbors who are struggling with financial crises and work with those clients until they become financially stable, Dorcas Ministries provided a tremendously helpful hand to more than 34,800 people in 2020.

Today, we’re taking a look at the impacts made through this local non-profit and the ways in which Cary community members who are able to, can help in this mission as we gear up for the winter 2021 season.

Pivoting in a Pandemic

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many Cary residents were thrown into uncertainty and crisis.

“Our most vulnerable neighbors were made even more vulnerable and thousands who had never needed help before were suddenly at a loss for how they would take care of basic needs,” said Ellen Frazier, Dorcas’ Marketing and Volunteer Manager.

The Dorcas Ministries’ food pantry, one of the busiest in North Carolina, saw early evidence of what was coming when requests for food doubled. At the same time, the Dorcas Thrift Shop, the non-profit’s main source of revenue to provide services, was forced to close for almost 2 months, due to the pandemic.

A New Way of Operating

Client Services also transitioned to an online platform, offering a bilingual application process to ensure consistency in service for financial and food assistance. The staff also shifted to a Case Management model, allowing them to provide even more support to clients. 

An entire operational regimen was developed for the Dorcas Thrift Shop so that we could safely re-open the store and protect customers, volunteers, and employees,” said Howard Manning, Dorcas’ Executive Director.

Temporary retail staff were hired to help fill gaps in donation processing, help clean shopping carts, and ensure customers were, and still are, wearing masks. Store and donation drop-off hours were also modified to help create a work environment that made volunteers more comfortable about returning. Volunteers also switched to helping out only in the mornings and before the store would open for the first 4 months of being reopened. Today, the shop continues to operate under a number of revised pandemic protocols.

Helping with Employment

A major struggle point the team at Dorcas has seen particularly in the last year is the need for help related to the challenges that come with layoffs, reduced hours and job instability.

Dorcas’ Director of Client Services, Jill Straight said, “We’ve responded by financially supporting workers while they retrain at WakeTech. We also match clients with industry-specific career coaches who lend valuable insight into resume preparation, interviewing and networking in their field.”

Tough Times, Remarkable Moments

Two volunteers at the Dorcas food pantry accept a donation, photo taken prior to the pandemic.

According to Dorcas staff, the community support to the organization is always a tremendous gift, particularly in a year where they had anticipated a financial drop in donations due to the pandemic crisis.

“We actually saw an increase, in financial and food donations, and in donations for the Dorcas Thrift Shop,” said Frazier.

She continued to say, “People were very creative in how they supported Dorcas. One gracious donor had a plant drive and sold yard plants, another donor had a Walk-A-Thon to collect donations for every mile she walked, and another donor used our Amazon Wish List to set up “subscribe and save” donations to our Food Pantry,” 

As for remarkable memories of serving their clients in 2020, Manning says that the staff was very agile, crossing over from Food Pantry need to needs in the store, always pitching in where and when it was needed.

“Our staff really came together in a way, we hadn’t had the opportunity to before, during the pandemic,” said Manning.

See the Impacts

Here are just a few of the measurable impacts Dorcas Ministries made in the year 2020 as compared to their 2019 numbers.

Funds Spent in Client Support

  • 2019: $706,558
  • 2020 $932,676

Number of Clients Served

  • 2019: 26,734
  • 2020: 34,897

Price of Total Food Distribution

  • 2019: 445,633
  • 2020: 930,629

Needed Items

The top need for Dorcas this time of year is food.

“Our shelves are low for the first time since before the pandemic and we know community needs will only increase during the winter season,” said Frazier. “We also need volunteers! Many of our pre-pandemic volunteers made the hard decision not to return, and we definitely still have gaps and openings in different volunteer areas, including the Thrift Shop, Food Pantry, and Career Coaches.”

Food Pantry Needs & Amazon Wish List

Dorcas Ministries regularly updates the Food Pantry’s most needed list at

Right now, these include:

  • Paper Towels
  • Toilet Paper
  • Pasta
  • Diapers, Size 6 and Size 1
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Dried Beans
  • Instant Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Masaca
  • Bisquick
  • Pancake Syrup
  • Cereal
  • Hot Cereal
  • Cake Mix
  • Cooking Oil
  • Bags of Frozen Fruit
  • Bags of Frozen Vegetables
  • Canned Mixed Vegetables
  • Peas
  • Canned Pasta
  • Canned Beef Stew
  • Canned Chili
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Ramen
  • Sugar
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Dog and Cat Food – 3lb bags
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Cleaning Supplies, such as Clorox Wipes, 409, sanitizers
  • Grocery Store Gift Cards

These items can be dropped off to the side of the Dorcas Ministries building at 193 High House Road. Donations are accepted Monday-Friday: 9 AM – 3 PM and 10 AM – 2 PM on Saturdays.

Also, for online shoppers’ convenience, Dorcas has their own Amazon Wish List for the Food Pantry where people can donate to directly through that link.

Get Involved Year-Round

There are a number of ways to support Dorcas and get involved in supporting your own neighbors.

You can:

  • Donate your previously loved items to the Thrift Shop
  • Host a Food Drive
  • Donate financially
  • Volunteer
  • Shop at the Dorcas Thrift Shop

Upcoming Dorcas Events

Thanksgiving Fundraiser

We have our annual Thanksgiving fundraiser coming up November 1st – November 30th!  This event, while typically an in-person event, is fully virtual for the 2nd year, due to the pandemic. Dorcas Ministries’ Season of Thanksgiving  ( fundraiser is a virtual, month-long event that provides you the opportunity to support the programs and services that assists thousands of our neighbors in need.  People can donate through this campaign, or even recruit donations by setting up a peer-to-peer fundraising page.  

Snow-4-Food Drive

Our friends at Southern Snowman are hosting their annual #snow4food drive on December 4th, from 10 AM – 4 PM.  They set up a winter wonderland with snow at Dorcas and encourage people to donate that day!  They have a goal of filling 21 of our donation bins this year.

Story by Ashley Kairis. Photos courtesy of Kairis & Dorcas Ministries.

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