By WECT Staff | March 15, 2021 at 6:29 PM EDT – Updated March 17 at 4:55 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Step Up for Soldiers held a ceremony at the Fallen Soldier Memorial at noon Wednesday to donate funds to a select number of organizations.
UNCW and Cape Fear Community College received $70,000 each. Step up also gave $100,000 to Tunnels to Towers and $25,000 to the National Guard Children’s Education Fund and $5,000 to the Veterans Day parade.
Step Up for Soldiers announced Monday it would be disbanding at the end of 2021. However, less than a day after making that decision, an organization called Trash for Troops offered its services and younger volunteers to help.
So, Step Up for Soldiers will continue to function with a new group of people leading operations.
As to why the organization planned to disband, a combination of factors including the pandemic and a decline in volunteers were at the root of the decision. They lost eight volunteers in the past year.
“COVID-19 and our aging volunteer group,” said Vice President of Step Up for Soldiers Jim Verdon. “We had the best.”
After being established by current President Thomas Russell in 2004, the volunteer-run organization benefited the community in multiple ways.
Step Up ran a children’s fishing tournament annually at Kure Beach Pier for 10 years and sent thousands of Packages from Home to frontline troops. It held elaborate fundraisers, like the 5K Combat Mud Run and the Backyard BBQ Cook-off, to help thousands of families in need. Step Up was also the first veterans group in the area to sponsor the Southeast North Carolina Veterans Day Parade.
With donations, the organization was able to build and maintain the Fallen Soldier Memorial at the National Guard Base behind the Wilmington International Airport. It also funded the building of the Kramer House where veterans and their family members could live while attending college.
Members of the organization expressed thanks to residents in the community who supported service men and women through Step Up for Soldiers.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.