Several organizations come together to provide gift cards to hurricane victims

CRAVEN COUNTY (WITN) Nearly a year-and-a-half since Hurricane Florence, many families in North Carolina are still left without a permanent residence as the holidays approach.

With nearly 400 of those families still residing in temporary homes provided by FEMA, multiple organizations came together to help spread some holiday cheer to those still displaced.

"We're still here. We're still doing our best to survive every day," said a teary-eyed Cynthia West; a woman displaced by the storm, along with her mother.

It's gifts like the one they received Monday that is making survival just a touch easier around the holidays.

"I'm humbled. I'm grateful. And it's good to know that there's still people out there that see us," West added.

"The fact that someone reached out to us, to give us a gift card-- everything little thing counts. Even prayer. Everything counts for us," proclaimed West.

And it's that higher power that drove Lutheran Services and their community partners, like Endeavors, to donate gift cards to roughly 400 families still displaced since Florence hit.

"If we can just give them that little bit of joy, that little bit of peace, that little bit of reminder that you're not going through this all by yourself. People do care," explained Paul Dunn, the NC/SC Disaster Director for Lutheran Services Carolinas.

Bailey Mannett is a Disaster Case Manager with Endeavors. She has be assigned West's case.

"It just makes me feel so encouraged that all of these people can come together-- how many people are involved in their recovery plan," Mannett explained.

The Food Lion gift cards will help families put food on the table ahead of the holiday season. A time difficult for many still without a permanent home.

"It's a little difficult knowing that we're not in our home, and we won't be celebrating Christmas in that home that we have been celebrating Christmas," said West.

But as she and her mother prepare to move into their new home next month, they know a brighter chapter lies ahead.

"My mom and myself, we're what we have and we're going to celebrate it the best way we do any other Christmas."

Lutheran Services and Endeavors began distributing gift cards in Craven and Jones Counties on Monday. They will spend the rest of the week delivering gift cards to families in 13 counties still in FEMA Manufacturing Housing Units.