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Life and Religion

Growing the spirit of philanthropy, one recycled wood pallet at a time
Advocate funds initiatives from backpacks to turkeys
 
Published Wednesday, November 27, 2019 8:50 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

COURTESY CITY ELECTRIC SUPPLY
Charles Robinson of Charlotte, left, recycles pallets to raise money for philanthropic initiatives, including buying Thanksgiving turkeys for low-income families.

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Charles Robinson is spreading hope and gratitude throughout Charlotte.

A native Charlottean, philanthropy is not a seasonal thing for him. It’s a way of life. Robinson delivered 300 turkeys on Tuesday and continued to provide turkeys for families in need on Thanksgiving Eve. Giving back to the community has never been a question for him, but the financial strain has proven problematic. He visits the City Electric Supply University City location weekly to collect pallets, which he then recycles and uses the proceeds to fund projects from donating backpacks to students and schools to donating turkeys during the holidays.

“I’ve been working around the community for the last 12 years,” Robinson said. “One of the challenges that I’ve had in giving was fundraising. There are so many groups out here and people do all they can, but there is often the challenge to meet needs. I said if I was going to have a nonprofit, I had to do it in a way that would not always affect my household, because I was spending money out of my own pocket. When we came up short on funding, I would pay it out of my own pocket. It put me in a place where things got hard in my house.”

Distribution centers like City Electric Supply often have a surplus of pallets, which are used to move products to, from and throughout the facility. Recycling them produces $4 per pallet.

“I knew recycling was a way to make a few dollars to help somebody,” Robinson said.

While Robinson has been recycling pallets for years, City Electric Supply management was unaware of his work. Then employee Camron Blackwelder shared Robinson’s mission with branch manager Robert Johnson. A crew of six employees took a personal collection to help Robinson with his holiday mission, donating $200.

“We started talking one day, and he said, ‘well, what do you do with all these pallets?’” Robinson said. “We developed a great friendship.”

Said Johnson: “We had no idea it was going on. Our counter guy, his name is Camron, came in here about eight months ago, and he said, ‘Robert, did you know anything about Charles? and honestly I said, ‘I’ve shaken his hand, and said hey to him a couple times.’ He said, ‘it’s wild what he does with those pallets. He was providing assistance for a lot of the people in this area.’”

Robinson’s experienced trouble with the truck he uses to move pallets, but Johnson and the City Electric Supply team intend to recycle the pallets and donate the proceeds to Robinson.

“We told him yesterday, we are going to deliver a bunch of pallets for him in our big truck so he can still get the money,” Johnson said.

Robinson, an ordained minister, is heavily involved with a number of nonprofits. He previously was executive director for One Time Inc., worked with United Neighborhoods of Charlotte, and was vice president of Positive Youth Transformation—a tutoring and mentoring organization.

“I want to focus more on rebuilding families,” he said. “We want these kids who are not going to college to have job opportunities with an affordable wage. We want the kids going to college to have the resources. We want the families who are trying to get out of the hotels in the Reagan Drive corridor to have a space where someone can teach them how to manage their finances, and give them an opportunity to move into an apartment versus spending money staying in hotels, and not being able to cook for those kids.

“On Wednesday, we cooked for about 200. The kids and the families had a great time coming over. It’s not much, but we do the best we can with what we have.”

 

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