Thursday, May 30, 2024

Statewide: Western region, August 2015

Mountain mission
One of North Carolina’s largest and fastest-growing philanthropies is Samaritan’s Purse, a Boone-based Christian charity led by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham. Over the last decade, income has more than doubled to $520.4 million in 2014, according to Jim Loscheider, vice president of donor ministries. Aided by more than 150,000 volunteers, Samaritan’s Purse is best known for distributing shoeboxes filled with gifts and personal-care products across the world through its Operation Christmas Child program. “Last year, we collected a total of 10.4 million boxes, and this year hope to collect 11 million shoebox gifts,” Loscheider says. “For many of these kids, it will be the first gift they have ever received.”

Evangelist Bob Pierce started the nonprofit in 1970 to spread Christianity in remote, impoverished areas around the world. He founded Federal Way, Wash.-based World Vision, another evangelistic group, in 1950. Pierce died in 1978, and Franklin Graham — who graduated from Appalachian State University that year — took over Samaritan’s Purse a year later.  Graham, who lives in Boone, previously co-founded World Medical Mission, which became an arm of Samaritan’s Purse. The medical group provides physicians, supplies and other aid at hospitals and clinics across the world, fighting poverty and disease.

Samaritan’s Purse was thrust into the limelight last year when one of its physicians, Dr.  Kent Brantly, contracted Ebola in Liberia. After emergency medical treatment in Atlanta, he recovered and has written a book about his work in Africa. “The increased media exposure introduced Samaritan’s Purse to many people for the first time, which resulted in more people becoming aware of what we do, praying for the tremendous needs and giving financially to help fight Ebola,” Loscheider says. Major relief efforts in recent years have included assisting refugees in south Sudan and Iraq, as well as in Nepal this year after a massive earthquake. Natural disasters can boost giving, he says, citing Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines in 2013. Contributions and grants increased more than 22% the following year.

Samaritan’s Purse employs 653 at its Boone headquarters and warehouses in Charlotte and North Wilkesboro. It shares some services with Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Asso-ciation, which promotes Christianity through rallies and Internet programming and provides disaster-relief services, sometimes in partnership with Samaritan’s Purse. Franklin Graham, 63, is CEO of both groups and received more than $850,000 in compensation in 2013, according to financial reports. His criticism of President Barack Obama has drawn national attention. “The President is leading this nation on a sinful course,” he wrote in a Facebook post just before the Supreme Court ruled to permit gay marriage. “God will judge him and us as a nation if we don’t repent.”

Those opinions aren’t affecting the groups’ fundraising efforts, Loscheider says. “Many Samaritan’s Purse supporters continue to give to the organization because they trust and appreciate Franklin Graham’s biblical perspective on both the issues facing our society today and the importance of helping people in need through the organization’s relief work.”


SPINDALE — White Oak Carpet Mills will create 40 jobs and invest $4.1 million over three years. The company, a division of Wichita, Kan.-based CAP Carpet, currently employs 14 people at the textile mill. The new jobs will pay an average annual wage of $38,878, about 10% higher than Rutherford County’s $34,970.

ASHEVILLEGenova Diagnostics named Christopher Smith president and chief executive officer. He was vice president of sales and marketing since 2006 and replaces Ted Hull, CEO since 2003, who retired. Founded here in 1987, Genova Diagnostics provides clinical lab testing for chronic diseases and employs about 200 people. Los Angeles-based investment firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners acquired the company in 2013.

MORGANTON — Bay Shore, N.Y.-based Duralee Fabrics will add 41 jobs at its 180,000-square-foot furniture-manufacturing plant here. The company, which began operations in Burke County in 2005 and employs about 120 people, will receive a $410,000 state grant for upgrades to the 52-year-old building.

ASHEVILLESummit Hotel Properties paid $35 million for Hotel Indigo, a franchise of United Kingdom-based InterContinental Hotels Group. The Austin, Texas-based real-estate investment trust plans to spend about $400,000 on improvements at the 115-room downtown hotel over the next 12 months. Summit owns 93 hotels in 23 states. Hotel Indigo is its only property in North Carolina.

ENKA Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College will close its campus here by Sept. 30. The school says the closure of the campus, which is only 50% occupied, will cut operating expenses by $540,000.

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