Hurricane damage on Ocracoke’s Back Road. Photo: P. Vankevich

Editor’s note: This story is updated from a previously published version.

By Rita Thiel

Another resource has begun from which Ocracoke families can fill their immediate and future needs.

Ocracoke families can sign up for Adopt-an-Ocracoke-Family and Ocracoke Island friends (on or off the island can “adopt” them.

These sponsors will help provide Ocracoke families suffering from Hurricane Dorian losses with immediate needs and future needs.

The program is offered through the Ocracoke Lifesaving Church. Hours for families to sign up at the church are from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays.

Emilie Cary, owner of Salt & Light Consulting, a marketing company in Morehead City, developed the idea as she observed the influx and distribution goods the last few weeks on Ocracoke since Hurricane Dorian thrashed the island. 

Cary first came over with the Fat Fella’s food truck shortly after Dorian and has been here off and on since, helping wherever help is needed. 

“I’ve had people and companies contact me to see how they can help Ocracoke,” she said in a phone interview. “With my marketing business, I have made lots of valuable connections between people and resources. People have immediate and long-term needs, but they might not know what those needs are yet.”

And the needs will change.

“The shock is still wearing off,” she said. “Whole households were destroyed, and those needs will be there in the future to replace items, large and small, that were lost. People don’t necessarily know what they need yet. That’s how this will help.”  

A sponsor or sponsors picks a family or individual to adopt and provides an item or items on the “wish list” for that family. Donors can choose however much they want to support and for however long they want.

“This will be anonymous,” said Ivey Belch, pastor of the Life Saving Church. “Donors and adopted families will not be in direct contact with each other. This program is another way of donating to the disaster but it is on a more personal level.”

All names of donors and families will be kept confidential. 

Needs will be broken into two areas: 

  1. Immediate needs, such as clothes, bedding, kitchen pots and pans, special food or dietary needs–things that have not been met through other organizations or donation funds found on the island.  Cary said this program is working with other relief organizations and if a need is met through another source, then that need is checked off the list. 
  2. Recovery/long-term needs: These are items people might need to fix their homes but aren’t ready for yet.  For example, flooring, tile, lighting fixtures or furnishings, appliances and mattresses.

As these items are donated or purchased they will be stored in a warehouse until the family is ready for it, even months down the line.

People can also sign up in the future, whenever they understand what they need. 

No family or person will be turned away and families/individuals do not have to be a church member to sign up for this, Cary said.

“This is for the entire community,” she said. 

To participate, donors can either stop into the church or email or Cary at

Monetary donations to the program can be sent to Life Saving Church at P.O. Box 68, Ocracoke, NC 27960.

Information is on the church’s Facebook page.





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