‘A small charity doing big things’

2010 Humanitarian Award winner announced

By: Terri Marshall

They have no office, no paid staff, no equipment to maintain, no overhead bills to pay … but they do have plenty of passion and commitment. They are Sharon Sanders and Wendy Tonetti of Kids First of the Carolinas, and Kids First was the recipient of the Housing Opportunity Foundation’s 2010 Humanitarian Award.

Founded by two mothers, Sanders and Tonetti, Kids First of the Carolinas helps the homeless, underprivileged children, and families in distress meet their most basic needs.

As a community-based nonprofit organization, Kids First does not receive any local, state or federal government funding. But what this very small, grassroots charity has done in its 20-year history is nothing short of amazing.

Here is a small sample of what Kids First of the Carolinas accomplishes each year:

  • Conducts a school-supply drive for local children
  • Provides Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas meals to area families
  • Connects families with mentors and tutors
  • Provides large items (like the use of a house) and small things like warm coats
  • Organizes a Christmas party with presents for up to 600 children and their families
  • Assists in providing medical supplies and treatment to those who need it most

Gracie’s story
You can’t talk about Kids First without telling the story of Gracie. The organization became aware of a family dealing with the worst of situations: a young child with incurable, inoperable cancer. After hearing what the family needed, Kids First helped pay for a new wheelchair and alternative treatments for Gracie. Through the generosity of their supporters, Kids First raised more than $22,000 to assist in Gracie’s care. Sadly, Gracie (only 7 years old) passed away in early August 2010. But the organization carries her spirit in its message of hope and caring. In their words, they are just a small charity doing big things.

Congratulations to Kids First of the Carolinas (along with co-founders Sharon Sanders and Wendy Tonetti) for being named the 2010 Humanitarian Award winner! Through this award, a $1,750 donation from the Housing Opportunity Foundation was made to the organization so that it may continue with its special purpose.

And thanks to all of the Realtors® who made the annual Holiday Luncheon toy drive on Dec. 10 extra special by donating nearly 500 toys to Kids First of the Carolinas!

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