Chamber Chat - A Day in the Life of a Chamber Member

Aug 27

By Meg Moss


“A Day in the Life of a Chamber Member”. If you’ve been to the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce facebook page recently, that’s what you’ll see. A facebook live video of an interview with Carol Carlson, founder of Willing Hands was posted this past Tuesday. In fact, each month we’ve been highlighting a different Chamber member via facebook live videos, finding out what “a day in the life” is like at their place of business.

In Willing Hand’s case, it’s more like “a year in the life” since they have various projects going on throughout the year. The mission of Willing Hands, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, is to build community and raise funds for agencies in Lee County, NC who work with at-risk families.

Their mission is being accomplished through special projects and events. And since its inception in 2003, Willing Hands has developed three main projects that have raised nearly a half million dollars for local charities. 

Common Thread is an all-volunteer weaving studio. Weavers use recycled materials that are woven into purses, rugs, placemats, baby blankets and more. It is self-supporting, but comes under the umbrella of Willing Hands. The weavers decide which agencies will benefit from their profits. Their only guidelines are to help at-risk families in Lee County.

During the facebook live segment, we got a tour of Common Thread, taking a look at the many looms in place, as well as all the donated fabrics and plastic bags that are made into sellable products. The retail store is located at 234 Carthage Street in Downtown Sanford.

Holiday Sox is another annual event that Willing Hands developed. It is a luncheon for women to come together and to hear from a survivor of domestic or sexual violence. All proceeds benefit HAVEN in Lee County, a shelter and resource center for battered women and their families.

No Scare Fair started in 2002. Always held the Saturday before Halloween, it is a non-scary trick or treat affaire for children ages 2-10 and their families. There have been as many as 2,000 children and their families that take advantage of this event every year.

Both Holiday Sox and No Scare Fair have raised over $300,000 for at-risk families in Lee County. These events have now been turned over to HAVEN as their main fundraisers for the year.

The Willing Hands Board of Directors knows how hard it is for non-profits, whose missions may be protecting and sheltering families, feeding people, or caring for children. But they are still required to figure out funding for their operations.

Willing Hands, under the leadership of Carol Carlson, continues to come up with new fundraising ventures, and their newest fundraiser is the production of a one-act play called The Cost of Living.

The Cost of Living was first performed in Anchorage, Alaska in September 1992.It was an all-volunteer effort, and all proceeds were donated to Hospice of Anchorage and the Anchorage Women's Breast Cancer Support Group.

The script, developed by Lily Ann Neilson and Catherine Stadem, was based on letters and interviews with 25 Anchorage breast cancer survivors.

Betty, Carol, Dee and Ellen are fictitious, composite characters invented from bits and pieces of interviews with real cancer survivors. The character of Abby is based on her actual letters written before her death in April of 1993.

Carlson acted in the premier production and has longed to see this production performed in Sanford. Several years ago, Carlson contacted Stadem to see if she would grant her the rights under Willing Hands, Inc. Catherine granted the rights, with the understanding that Willing Hands would grant all profits to a charity or charities of their choice.

All proceeds from this event will be shared between Central Carolina Hospital’s Auxiliary Cancer Care Fund and the Lee County Highway to Healing Fund.

The ArtStudio, located on the 4th floor of 102 South Steele Street, has donated their space for the production, which will take place on October 13th -15th. Ticket price for this event is $25 and may be purchased at

Stay tuned for the next “Day in the Life of a Chamber Member” facebook live event on Tuesday, September 26th, when we will be featuring Gross Farms.

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