SURPRISE SQUAD UPDATE: Community inspired to lend a hand in Carolina Beach

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Submitted: Thu, 07/17/2014 - 3:21am
Updated: Wed, 07/23/2014 - 7:37pm

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The Surprise Squad made a trip out to Pleasure Island yesterday to help pay water bills. While we were there, we found one of the most emotional stories so far: A Carolina Beach woman in need, and tonight, she is getting help from you our viewers.

Edna Strickland has lost family members, her house is in shambles, she’s been down on her luck and said we were an answer to her prayers in her time of need.

“My house is ruined, my water broke and it leaked for three months, and then I lost my sister, which upset me real bad,” Strickland told us. “That’s been hard. And it feels like you are at the end of the world. My husband died, my next husband died. I can’t believe this.”

After seeing this story, some folks in the community got inspired.

The station received several phone calls and emails asking about “the sweet lady at Carolina Beach.” They were touched by her story and wanted to do something, so we decided to help make that happen.

We gathered a few of the people that wanted to help and we were able to catch up with Edna Strickland to give her yet another surprise.

We met up with a few of the folks that wanted to continue paying it forward. One of the donors, Claude Riley, said this was an opportunity to give; truly believing that giving is better than receiving.

“I saw this story, and I said, ‘Oh, my goodness. We have to do something,'” Riley said. “We’re commissioned to help other people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian, a non-Christian.”

Riley and his wife joined another anonymous donor. We went to one of Strickland’s old properties that had suffered intense water damage.

What started as a few community members lending a hand turned into more than they could have imagined.

A 100+-year-old house Strickland has owned for more than 40 years is falling apart. Strickland says it’s been hard keeping up the property since she’s the last left in a family of eight.

The large space needs to be completely gutted. This year’s ice storm damaged pipes and left a lot of water damage. Riley says this only drives them to help more, but he knows this is more than what three people can do. He’s making an all-call to the community asking for help.

“It’s time for the community to come together and help her out,” Riley said.

If you or your organization want to help out, call our newsroom at (910) 763-0979

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13 Comments on "SURPRISE SQUAD UPDATE: Community inspired to lend a hand in Carolina Beach"

2015 years 8 months ago

That means that everyone who’s going to read this piece has already done so. I hate to belabor the obvious, but that means there’s no longer any value in keeping it here.

It’s time to move on to something else, just like the professional news people do.

Heimie Schmelter
2015 years 8 months ago

And you can bet it won’t be given to horses hindquarters like yourself! Kindness begets kindness. You don’t have to be poor to receive it. Who made you the God almighty judge of who should get help and who shouldn’t?

2015 years 8 months ago

Funny how you wouldn’t publish my first comment, but how about telling the real story? This woman owns 1.4 acres of land at 7900 Myrtle Grove Rd; 605 Charlotte Av; 204 Harper Av; 205, 207, and 209 Lake Park Bd, and 219 Myrtle Av between Hardees and McD’s.She is far from destitute, so people should help those that really and truly are in need……..

2015 years 8 months ago

Hope she gets her hotel fixed up for free. She is worth more than all of us put together. lol

2015 years 8 months ago

Good grief! Lighten up!

If I am not mistaken, the purpose of the surprise squad is to help WWAY celebrate its 50th anniversary. Mr. Perry has generously supported these fun segments that brighten the day and provide a fun surprise for a few random people in the viewing area.

I doubt that WWAY requires an income statement and balance sheet from people to determine who is “worthy” of a little fun treat. And despite efforts by some to vilify people with assets as evil, everyone enjoys a welcome surprise. And everyone has high and low times when a little help and encouragement can make a big difference.

WWAY and Mr. Perry paid someone’s water bill, bought someone’s lunch, or did something else to add a little surprise treat to someone’s day. Good fun! If other people want to do more, more fun. If someone does not want to participate, don’t.

Rather than “means” testing, look in the mirror and do some “mean” testing.

2015 years 8 months ago

If I were in this ladies position knowing I had the means 10 times over to fix my own hotel, there is NO WAY I would let anyone GIVE me help for free, but thats just me. She obviously doesn’t care if its falling apart, the water leaked for 3 months and she didn’t notice? No, because the place wasn’t even being used.

These very kind people wanting to help her probably don’t have much to give, unlike the old lady does. The video of her crying was sad and made people think her HOME was in dire need of repair, when in fact it was her hotel. She has 5 homes she can live in, FIVE ! I think she is bloody cheeky! There are plenty of old people in this town that truly NEED financial help and she isn’t one of them. What she needs is a manager to oversee the job which she can hire herself.

beach guy
2015 years 8 months ago

Please do not castigate me I think that the people trying to help are absolutely wonderful in the idea of helping those that need it… but here is a logical suggestion that would probably solve all of this ladies money problems SELL THE PROPERTY
Lots are at least a 100K on the Island a historic house would probably be very marketable for someone with the funds to restore it. Lets be logical if they do get it fixed up she will not be able to maintain it. Someone needs to look out for this lady and help her make a decision that will help her for the long term.. she needs cash more than she needs some ramshackle old house. she could use the money and get a place where she would be relatively safe from hurricanes and the other extreme elements that come along with living on an Island. She could spend the rest of her days not worrying about a old house falling apart and how she is going pay her water bill.
That is what I would want my mother or grandmother to do

Daniel Seamans
2015 years 8 months ago

…and no, you shouldn’t be criticized for making them, either. So thank you for sharing your thoughts.

There are many ‘what ifs’ that could be applied here….some you have brought up and a ton of others from all angles.
Heck, I spent 2 years in the mortgage biz and witnessed many situations that looked very simple on the surface(just sell it) but unless the homeowners wanted to take a 1/4 of the value of the property…it wasn’t that simple. In other scenarios, ‘just selling’ wasn’t even an option for various reasons(some personal, some legal).
I don’t know this situation….only know the gestures made.

Whatever the case, you are totally correct in saying it’s absolutely wonderful that folks in the community want to help out in any way they can.

It’s refreshing to have people call/email the newsroom wanting to be a part of our communities as was the case here. Makes a grown man smile big time :)

2015 years 8 months ago

Not sure what to think about this. Nice lady owns a very old hotel, nice old house and the triple lot it sits on, on the main drag in CB across from McDonalds. That has to be worth a fortune. Why didnt her insurance cover the damage from frozen water pipes? We were all thinking she was some destitute elderly lady when she owns a PRIME area of CB. Now these nice folks feel obligated to rebuild her hotel?

beach guy
2015 years 8 months ago

I thought I recognized her I used to live across the street.
The old house I lived in recently sold for 160K and it was a small 2 bedroom 1 bath house on a small lot. The hotel right behind the Presbyterian church runs about a half of a city block is prime real estate in the T-1 tourist district,and back in the day it was packed all the time.
still nice of folks to want to help and I am not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings for wanting to help I am just saying sometimes things are not as they are portrayed kudos the wway and perry for their generosity.

Heimie Schmelter
2015 years 8 months ago

She probably doesn’t have insurance on it or would’ve used it. I don’t think anyone thought she was destitute or even cared about that. She’s just a very nice little old lady and it’s obvious she’s had a very hard time and was very appreciative of having her water bill paid for.

There’s nothing at all wrong with these people showing all of this kindness to her, no matter what her property may be “worth”. We need more of this kindness spread around instead of everyone thinking about themselves. This isn’t like she’s Bernie Madeoff trying to steal candy from little kids. It’s nice little old lady that just needs a little help. These people do not feel “obligated”, they’re doing this out of obvious kindness and compassion. Perhaps you’ll understand better IF you get to be her age and realize that doing simple things isn’t so easy or simple anymore.

I personally love helping people like this and do it whenever I get a chance. You should try it sometime to help you get rid of that bitterness you carry on your shoulders, it must be heavy.

2015 years 8 months ago

Looks like the best surprise in the “Surprise Squad” program might be the motivation it has generated in others to pay it forward. In the “me first” society we seem to live in these days, one couldn’t hope to find a better result than this.

2015 years 8 months ago

I am not bitter at all Thank you. I do help people who NEED it. In this case this lady is cash poor and property wealthy. Anyone that owns beach business property and has no insurance is frankly nuts, and how is that even possible for liability on the quests alone? If she cant afford to fix up her business then she needs to sell it. I guarantee the people who offered help had no idea what they were getting into, that she was talking about a hotel not her residence.