Secret Garden hopes to make Ocracoke Island’s Christmas

Published 6:56 pm Friday, November 1, 2019

For most Beaufort County residents, Hurricane Dorian has been relegated to just another storm that blew through eastern North Carolina, doing minimal damage. But for many families on the island of Ocracoke, the devastation wrought by Dorian will be felt for months to come.

That’s why Barbara Hardy and Bob Ray, owners of The Secret Garden Gallery & Boutique and former residents of Ocracoke, are raising money to help families in need this holiday season.

“It’s really to help with Christmas, put a little hope and a little happiness back in their lives, because you just can’t imagine what they’re going through,” Hardy said.

Their fundraising efforts have netted $10,000 so far, with a goal of $51,000 in mind. Their target is the 170 children enrolled at the Ocracoke School — children who haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in the school since massive flooding after Hurricane Dorian’s eye passed the island on the morning of Sept. 6. The Ocracoke School was one of many structures on the island victim to the historic flooding.

“So we’re trying to collect $300 for each kid enrolled at the school to be awarded to parents of each child and be used for a (Christmas) meal and a few gifts,” Hardy said.

The fundraising drive also offers an opportunity to take home a few pieces of Ocracoke-based art. Every $100 donated by an individual will enter that person into a drawing for seven items: a painting by the late Ocracoke folk artist Elizabeth Parsons; a cormorant decoy by Ocracoke carver Nathan Spencer; a painted glass sea turtle; a multi-strand pearl necklace made by Hardy; a painting of Ocracoke by Washington artist Art Tyndall; a pastel print by Dan Curry and a collage by Bob Ray. Most can be viewed in the display window at The Secret Garden, along with other Ocracoke memorabilia, including vintage images and a Swan Quarter ferry ticket dating back to when a ferry ride cost $1.27.

The fundraiser will be ongoing until Dec. 6, the date of the downtown Washington merchants’ Jingle and Mingle, and Hardy will deliver gift cards to the Ocracoke families on Dec. 7. She said regardless of how much money is raised, the total will be divided equally on 170 gift cards.

“I’m really hoping we can get to $100 (each),” she said.

Hardy said there are a variety of ways to donate: at The Secret Garden, 144 W. Main St., and several downtown businesses have donation jars for collections. Donations can also be made through the Facebook page Ocracoke, by scrolling down to find the donate post.

“One thing we’re asking people to do is if you can’t make a monetary donation, just spread the word,” Hardy said.

For more information about the Ocracoke Island Christmas, call 252-588-0067.