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

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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.

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“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