Doing Business with Heart
How often during this time of year is one reminded of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and that most miserly of characters, Ebenezer Scrooge?
When asked how much he will give for a charitable donation, “some slight provision for the poor and…those who suffer greatly,” Scrooge replies, “Nothing! … It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly.”
Luckily, on the Outer Banks, we have no such Scroogesque business owners among us. Rather, our small, tightly-knit community endeavors to help one another out, be it through fundraising, donations, or the gift of volunteer time.
This holiday season, we’d like to highlight a few of the local businesses who put charitable giving at the top of their lists.
Kitty Hawk Kites
According to Marketing Manager Jeff Schwartzenberg, Kitty Hawk Kites supports 50 to 75 local and regional non-profit initiatives annually.
“The residents of the Outer Banks take great pride in supporting one another and coming together to make a difference when it’s needed,” says Schwartzenberg.
Of special interest to Kitty Hawk Kites is the Outer Banks Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Coalition. He says, “The safety of our employees, locals, and visitors is critical to the success of our community and we are committed to the mission of this organization.”
This past August, Kitty Hawk Kites donated the proceeds from their annual OBX Watermelon Festival to the Outer Banks Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Coalition. “The $3,500 donation will hopefully go a long way in helping to proactively spread the mission of this great organization.”
In addition to encouraging their many employees to practice bike safety on our roads, Kitty Hawk Kites also asks that they consider “participating in the various events and initiatives that help spread the word about this critical issue.”
“We love helping out in the community,” says Richard Bruce of Pigman’s Bar-B-Que. “It also takes a lot of courage to ask, so if someone is investing their time to approach us with a worthy cause, we reward their efforts.”
Two charities which hold a special place in Pigman’s heart are The Beach Food Pantry and The Outer Banks SPCA.
“Hunger is no joke in Dare County,” Bruce says.
He serves on the board of the Beach Food Pantry and points out that nearly 15% of county residents are food insecure.
“Recently, we organized an event to fight hunger in Dare County called Fight for Food. In three hours we raised over $3,600 for the Food Pantry.”
“We are also animal lovers,” he adds. In partnership with the SPCA, Pigman’s hosts Tail Waggin’ Tuesday the last Tuesday of each month.
“[The SPCA will] bring an animal that is having a little trouble getting adopted and give it exposure. We donate 10% of our lunch sales every time the SPCA comes out. Both organizations serve our wonderful, giving community with passion. We are proud to support them!”
Jimbo Ward estimates that Beach Realty donates time, money, and volunteers to over fourteen different organizations per year, but the Outer Banks Relief Foundation (OBRF) gets special attention because, “My wife Millie was one of the founding members.”
He’s proud to note that the OBRF has raised and distributed over $1.2 million to people in need who live and work in Dare and Currituck counties. Beach Realty’s business support of the OBRF extends well beyond financial giving – everyone participates. At the Outer Banks Marathon, which raises money for the OBRF, General Manager Jason Ward, Millie, and numerous members of staff, help with hospitality, food and beverage, runners’ needs, and crowd control.
“While we don’t require our staff to participate, I am very proud of all the participation we do get,” says Jason.
“The challenge for all non-profits on the beach, or anywhere else, is of course raising money.” But Ward finds that the effort pays off in helping the OBRF. “I do not know of another organization that is available for immediate assistance for someone who meets our guidelines for receiving aid. Hundreds of hours of volunteer time and personal finances go into this effort and with all such organizations created to help those in need, there never seems to be enough.”
Kelly’s Hospitality Group
Mike Kelly, local restaurateur and founder of the annual Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, knows that he lives in a special place.
“Dare County itself, for the size of the county, is a very, very giving county,” he says.
Kelly can count his business as one of those that gives.
“Between our three restaurants, we give approximately $25,000 per year in donations, gift certificates, and hosting fundraising events.”
But for Kelly, it wasn’t enough; he wanted to do more for the community he loves. The Kelly Family Fund was formed in 1994 and has given away over $300,000 to local charities. As part of the Outer Banks Relief Foundation (OBRF), the fund raises money each October through the Kelly Hospitality Group Charity Golf Tournament.
“I was on the board of the OBRF and I felt starting a Kelly’s fund might be a worthwhile thing,” says Kelly.
In addition to the Kelly Fund, he also helped start the Outer Banks Marathon which has given $50,000 to both the OBRF and Dare Education Foundation.
“I would recommend starting a charity fund to any business owner who has an idea and interest in doing so,” says Kelly.
Marketing Manager, Meredith Elliott, is proud that her company cultivates a giving community. “At TowneBank, we have what we call a Culture of Caring which promotes serving others and enriching lives.”
Elliott points out that over the past year, “Towne has supported more than 120 organizations and provided over $125,000 in contributions to Northeastern North Carolina.”
“Whether we are supporting education, food and shelter for the homeless, individuals with disabilities, the arts community, local fire and rescue teams, healthcare and medical research, and so on, their causes are so meaningful that we try to help any way we can.”
And that help comes not just in the form of financial donations, but from their employees as well.
Elliott says, “Through our Culture of Caring, we encourage our employees to volunteer their time to an organization that means something to them. We would encourage our community to do the same.”
Stack ‘Em High
Imagine handing over the keys to your restaurant to members of a school club, an athletic team, a handful of preschool teachers, or to a charity organization. These neophytes are there to take your customers’ dinner orders, serve food, and bus tables while a few regular employees cook and supervise. All profits for that evening meal go to the organization represented that evening who can easily make four or five thousand dollars, depending on ticket sales. Now imagine hosting such an event every Thursday night for eight months out of the year.
The Stack ‘Em High in Kitty Hawk is well-known for doing just that for twenty years of pancake dinners. Steve Kiousis who co-owns the popular restaurant with his wife, Kristine, says that hosting these fundraisers means that they “get to see a whole different cross-section of people [on the beach.]” He laughs and adds, “All these kids come in here, and the next thing I know, they’re my employees next summer.”
Their restaurant also cooks about once a month for Ruthie’s Kitchen, a homeless outreach on the beach. Steve estimates that 50-70 people are fed there every evening with the higher numbers going to winter meals.
Head south and you’ll find the same family doing more good deeds. Nick and Dawn Kouisis, owners of the Kill Devil Hills Stack ‘Em High, also give to over nine, charitable organizations in Dare County.
Aside from the assistance the restaurants provide, Nick and Dawn make personal volunteering a priority, giving their time to the Outer Banks Hospital and the Dare County Board of Health. Their efforts trickle down to their employees as well.
“We encourage our staff to support community fundraisers when possible.”
“Our focus is on community support, and we try to give to those organizations with the most need,” says Nick. “My parents were involved with fundraising for the community during my childhood. This inspired me to do the same.”
One family name. Two restaurants. Many big hearts.♦
Meaghan Beasley is proud to support local businesses that nurture and support the local community.
The six businesses above donate to an impressively long list of good causes. Here are a few:
Albemarle Food Bank
All Dare County schools
All Local Town Fire Departments
All Local Town Police Departments
All Saint’s Episcopal Church
Beach Food Pantry
Camp Emanuel with Liberty Christian Fellowship
Community Care Clinic of Dare
Crisis Pregnancy Center
Dare Education Foundation
Duck United Methodist Church
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Friends of Jockey’s Ridge
Heron Pond Montessori
Local Alzheimer’s Support Organization
NC Lions VIP Fishing Tournament
North Banks Rotary Foundation
Outer Banks Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Coalition
Outer Banks Community Foundation
Outer Banks Relief Foundation
Outer Banks SPCA
Outer Banks Sporting Events