As fall deepens, local residents anticipate Cardboard City, a fun annual event that raises funds to help The ARK, but also awareness of the problem of homelessness.
“This is our one big, huge fundraiser,” said Cynthia Cothren, director of The ARK, who is always excited to see what kind of creativity comes out to Elkin Municipal Park the Saturday evening before Thanksgiving each year.
Previously, a hobbit house as well as Snoopy’s dog house have appeared at the park thanks to the Elkin Public Library.
Abstract Church’s Superman has visited with a telephone booth barely recognizable in this technological age.
America, the holidays and a beloved grandmother also have been recognized with fun and engaging presentations.
One of the most anticipated boxes also often raises the most funds, tapping into local history and a favorite hobby.
When creating a gift from the Elkin First United Methodist Church as Pastor Mark Bowden moved to a new parish, quilter Carol McDowell was inspired to continue warm giving.
“I had figured out that Mark was going to leave this summer,” said McDowell, explaining she thought it would be nice for the congregation to give him a special quilt, “so I gathered ties from the men in the congregation.”
Occasionally that included eyeing them from the choir loft until she could personally pet them in an effort to coerce the owner into making a contribution.
“The hardest colors to come by in ties are orange, purple and green,” especially the lighter of the latter two, according to McDowell, as she shared a story about Randy Bledsoe’s lavender tie.
“I missed some of my cues singing that morning,” said McDowell, “because I was staring at that purple tie.
“I went up to Randy, as the men in my church are used to me doing, and I pet that tie,” said McDowell, demonstrating how she zoned in on the tie without looking Bledsoe in the face as she asked him to remove it right there in church.
Some of the ties coveted by McDowell are in the quilt the church gave to Barden, but they are also in the queen-sized companion quilt McDowell made for Cardboard City.
“When I was done [with Barden’s quilt] I had bits and pieces left over. As a member of the Foothills Quilters, I always support Cardboard City and I decided I would take the bits and pieces and make a quilt that would be a fundraiser for Cardboard City,” explained McDowell, who thinks The ARK does a great service to the community as well as the individuals it serves.
“An organization that teaches a man to fish,” said McDowell, “that takes people who need the help, helps them, gives them someplace to live and food to eat while they learn how to find a job, hold a job, keep a job, save their money, manage their money, and never need to be homeless again. That’s a pretty big thing and we’ve got The ARK that does it for us so I’m trying to use this quilt to raise funds.”
McDowell has displayed the quilt in various places including meetings where she has explained the unusual fundraising technique.
“I am appealing to people’s sense of fairness and gratitude to The ARK,” said McDowell. “It took six weeks and almost 200 hours just to prepare the ties that were used in the quilt. It took another two months to then make the quilt top. I’d say I have 600 to 700 hours of work in the quilt in all.”
McDowell is asking those who wish to win the machine-washable quilt to submit the amount equal to the value. Each submission will be placed in an envelope with the giver’s name. During Cardboard City, McDowell will draw one envelope to receive the quilt, however everyone will be a winner.
“That’s a pretty generous gift,” said McDowell, recognizing that those who don’t receive the quilt will have left their funds for The ARK.
“I think we are so lucky to have an organization like The ARK in our city,” said McDowell, who will eagerly share the history and value of ties with anyone who would like to visit her during Cardboard City where donations and other participants will be welcome.
“We have 30 boxes so far this year,” said Cothren, reminding participants of the soup kitchen available to those who will serve the city by being “homeless” from 5 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 18. “High school life science class makes the best ever chicken noodle soup.”
For more information on how to participate in Cardboard City, to join the contest for the quilt, or on The ARK, call 336-527-1637 or go to www.thearkelkin.org.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.