CHARLESTON — This holiday season, local nonprofit Charleston Fishing Families has raised funds through grants and donations in order to provide opportunities to fishing industry families during what is financially their hardest time of year.

For its second year Charleston Fishing Families gave away gift cards to local grocery stores to need families associated with our fishing industry. This year they passed out the gift cards through a walk the Dock on Saturday, Nov. 25.

“We just walk the dock, the guys don’t have to apply. As we find fishermen who are down there in need we hope they will be accepting,” Melissa Clemens with Charleston Fishing Families said.

Charleston Fishing Families had enough funding to provide 10 meals to fishing families in need of a little help getting together their Thanksgiving dinner.

“We put together ten $100 gift cards to Grocery Outlet, we try to stay local,” Kori Wright with Charleston Fishing Families said. 

Charleston Fishing Families is also taking applications through Nov. 30 for its third annual Holiday assistance program. Fishing families looking for extra assistance this holiday season can apply online with Charleston Fishing families. Once the deadline for applications is reach Charleston fishing Families forms a committee with the Charleston Volunteer Firefighter to pick out which families will be reciving assistance.

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“We started out with five families our first year, and now we’re up to twenty families we’ll be serving this year,” Clemens said.

The Holiday Program doesn’t just provide fish families with food for the holiday season, it also provides they with toys and other opportunities for the families to spend time together around the holidays.

“Our application is very specific, it asks about ages of kids, gender, interests, likes, allergies, and then we shop accordingly. We try to do all the fixings for a Christmas meal, a breakfast, and then long term pantry stuff like beans,” Wright said. “This year we’re trying to focus on providing opportunities for the families to do activities, like bowling…Anything we can do to promote getting people outside and doing things with their kids instead of just handing them an electronic,” Wright said.

Charleston Fishing Families’ goal as an organization is not only to help the families of fishermen, but all families in the Charleston area who are dependent on the fishing industry.

“Our goal is to reach not only the fishermen on the boats, but also the local plant workers, and the workers in stores like Englund Marine,” Clemens said. “We do gear really hard toward the fishermen though, because these guys don’t get unemployment. They’re all independent contractors, so when we go into these negotiations and all these different delays that could happen the dock workers and plant workers can collect unemployment. They get laid off and collect wages while they’re down, our fishermen don’t.”

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at