Left to right, Sharon Montague, Shelly Brown and Chef Randy of Harrah’s present a check to Judy Annis and Ruth McConnell of Jackson Neighbors in Need.

The Jackson Neighbors In Need annual fundraising dinner, Charlie’s Challenge, will have a different approach this year.

Fundraising efforts will be directed to jacksonneighborsinneed.org for a Jan. 30 raffle instead of our usual dinner prepared by Chef Randy. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort continues to sponsor this year’s event with a monetary gift and a raffle item – a Yeti Cooler and two Yeti drink cups.

Our local merchants have also supported us again by giving us wonderful items for the raffle. We are so grateful for all of the support we receive from our community. Visit the JNIN website to get the information you need to donate and participate in the raffle. There are great pictures and information about each of the raffle items as well as a video by Chef Randy and a welcome message from the family of the late Charlie McConnell, for whom the event is named.

The one constant in all that is so different this year is that our neighbors in Jackson County still need our help to stay warm during the cold winter months. To date we have helped almost as many people as we did in all of last year’s heating season. We have given heaters to folks, paid power bills to prevent cutoffs, and our blanket drive is currently in progress. Remember that we also fund small emergencies such as car batteries/tires, a microwave oven, gravel for a cancer patient’s driveway so he/she could get to treatments and many other emergency needs. All of our funds are paid directly to the merchant.

Jackson Neighbors In Need seeks to work and partner with other community agencies in order to help as many people as possible. Sometimes one agency can give a certain amount to help, and we will join with them to fund the full amount of a given request. We are there when a person does not qualify for help from other agencies or when they have utilized all eligibility with that agency.

To help this year visit our website to donate or you may send a check to Mountain Projects, 25 Schulman St., Sylva, NC 28779 so we may once again help our neighbors. We have had such a loyal group of supporters during the past 12 years and we are most appreciative of their support. We hope we can count on everyone this year.

Judy Annis is chair, Jackson Neighbors In Need.