The State of North Carolina Chooses Charity

This holiday season, the North Carolina coalition of Young Americans for Liberty chapters joined together for one big “Choose Charity” event. On December 1, almost 40 students from 9 chapters of YAL descended on Winston-Salem (a central location in the state and a major player in tobacco country) to spend the day volunteering for local charities. Choose Charity provided a great opportunity for YALers from all over “the Old North State” to come together, network, and work as a team. The idea had its origins at another regional gathering, the NC SFL Regional Conference in Chapel Hill — getting together always has positive repercussions.


This event would not have been possible without the foresight and efforts of Emma Benson (new cochair of the Noth Carolina YAL), Barbara Sostaita and Dan Hanley (both students in Winston-Salem), Craig Dixon (of the Leadership Institute), Wesley Wright (video editor extraordinaire), and all the chapter Presidents and YAL members from around North Carolina. This was truly a group effort!


In the course of planning this event, North Carolina YAL actually had one of the best problems you can have: too many volunteers. Students had to be split up into one of three volunteer locations: The Children’s Home of Winston-Salem, the SECU Family House, and the Forsyth County Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

1.  Five students representing Salem College and Appalachian State University joined together to cook dinner for residents of the SECU Family House. The SECU Family House provides affordable lodging in a caring environment for medical patients and their families who travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., for medical treatment. The group made pepperoni, cheese and pineapple pizza from scratch and pasta for Saturday night’s dinner.


For most of the students, this was the first time they had ever cut a pineapple or made pizza dough but together, we served and learned from one another. For patients and family members who spend long hours in a hospital, coming back to a home-cooked meal and friendly faces can make a big difference.


Our group spent only a couple of hours in the SECU kitchen laughing, cooking, and enjoying each others company. However, that small commitment translated to the happiness and relief of an individual or family in need.


2. The Children’s Home, based in the heart of Winston-Salem North Carolina, is a safe home open to children that are experiencing problems in their at home life. Twenty YALers helped John, a sophomore at Mt. Tabor High School, complete his Eagle project on site. His project requirements included getting a set number of service hours documented — our group was able to put him way over this requirement!

group children

Students searched the location for different pieces of nature, such as rocks, pinecones, old chairs by the barn, and any random objects that could be painted to become part of the new décor outside the children’s art center. Students also stained a picnic table, put in plants, and spread pine needles. YALers at the Children’s Home came from UNC, Wake Forest, NC State, and Appalachian State.


]At the conclusion of the day, John’s father wanted to discuss who we were and what YAL does. Turns out he was a fellow supporter of liberty as well! As a professor at High Point University, we plan on working with him to start up a new chapter.

yal girls

3. At the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, through sheer brute force and will power, a group of fifteen helped create a more organized and clean shopping environment. The ReStore, a massive warehouse facility taking a constant stream of donations, uses its profits to help fund the construction of homes for needy members of the community. A conglomeration of donations can quickly build up into unmanageable piles — home décor and construction materials are constantly coming and going.

group habitat

Our group was put to work cleaning and organizing anything and everything: air conditioning units, doors and windows, construction supplies, sinks/tubs, and home furniture. At the end of the day, the store was a much more breathable and aesthetically pleasing place to shop. Most did not escape without their fair share of coughs — a major sweep was required.


Properly organizing and displaying items for sale will, hopefully, result in more purchases for the store — a valuable lesson in private enterprise! Some even made some discoveries and did a little shopping. Purchases included an antique sewing machine and misprinted coffee mugs.


The group at the ReStore was made up of students from UNC, Wake Forest, and the North Carolina School of the Arts. It was a fantastic chance to make new friends inside (and outside) the YAL network.

After a long day of volunteering, everyone reconvened at a popular local restaurant to wind down and get fed. All-in-all, it was a long Saturday — especially for those who drove long distances — but it was well worth it. The statewide network will be crucial moving forward as we continue to build and sustain an activism machine! Well done, everyone!


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