A community unites to help Fox Hollow families

Feb. 2, 2024





For Catawba County United Way (CCUW) Executive Director Mark Bumgarner, Tuesday night was all about building a community. 


Local non-profits, local businesses and public agencies were invited by the CCUW to meet with families impacted by the Jan. 9 tornado during a dinner hosted at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Claremont.

The CCUW recently became the lead agency helping to coordinate aid to those families in the Fox Hollow neighborhood.

This was a transition from the emergency relief provided by the American Red Cross.

"We want you to know us. We want you to connect to us,” Bumgarner said to the more than 20 households who were able to make it to the meeting.

“We have a lot of work in front of us, and I'm so thankful for our partners from the American Red Cross who picked up this burden and carried it further than they were really supposed to, and then recognized the families needed ongoing support and needed community involvement so we were honored they came to us.”

The United Way joins several other local groups who stepped up to help after the storm.

The Boxcar Grille in Claremont provided meals for those who stayed at the Red Cross shelter immediately after the storm. After the shelter closed, the restaurant’s owner April Bolick continued to find ways to help. She took time to visit several of the families in the Fox Hollow neighborhood and started collecting information about needs.

At the top of the list was getting roofs repaired to help get the families out of the elements and keep more rain from getting into the homes.

Bolick purchased some supplies and was able to get help to go into Fox Hollow to start basic repairs to roofs.

"I started with one project and then two projects and then three projects and then it got into about ten," Bolick said. "I knew I couldn't personally fund this myself."

That's when she reached out to others in the community who could help cover the rest of this initial outreach.

She also started the Hearts on a String, essentially an Adopt a Family program. Families fill out forms listing additional resources they need, and the forms can be picked-up at the Boxcar Grille (3140 N Oxford St, Claremont) by individuals interested in helping families directly.

"We're very blessed to live in this community with so many who have such big hearts," Bolick said.

Neighbors and Friends

Samaritan's Purse was another agency who came in to help with debris removal and have continued to work up to this day in the neighborhood.

Carol Miller along with Donna Sims from Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Claremont helped organize the church's outreach to the families.

They made almost a thousand meals to help families in the first days of their relief effort. They now partner with The Corner Table Soup Kitchen in Newton to continue bringing hot meals to those impacted by the storm.

"We feel like God has laid this on our hearts to help," Miller said at the meeting.

Also attending Tuesday’s meeting was Danna Dunn, store manager for Lowes Home Improvement off Hwy 70 in Hickory.

The store brought in dozens of construction buckets filled with cleaning supplies. Dunn got the store in Statesville and in north Hickory to help as well.

"I had six associates who work for me who were impacted, so it definitely meant something to us," Dunn said.

At the meeting, they also had large contractor sized trash bags, storage totes, work gloves and additional cleaning items to help the families with clean-up.

The day after the meeting, Lowes donated propane heaters, battery powered lanterns with batteries and first aid kits.

Bumgarner invited local government and public agencies to the meeting as additional resources for families. The Catawba County Department of Social Services directory Karen Harrington, the County Public Health Director Jennifer McCracken and Ben Willis from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments shared information about their programs.

Check back weekly for more updates about this recovery outreach in Claremont.

Want to help? Call the CCUW at 828-327-6851.