RALEIGH (WTVD) -- When most high school students are counting the days to Christmas break, the students at Raleigh's Enloe Magnet High School are tirelessly working to surpass their goal of supporting a deserving local charity.
Enloe's 12th Annual Charity Ball, being held Saturday Dec. 10, benefits Urban Ministries of Wake County, a non-profit that for 35 years has been meeting the needs of 27,000 people annually through providing healthcare, nutrition services, and a pathway home for homeless women.
On the eve of Charity Ball, standing beside a giant fundraising thermometer taped to the wall inside her school, Aarthi Kannan, Enloe Student Body President, wasn't surprised students had raised more than $100,000 toward their goal of $120,000 in only two months' time.
"What we keep standing behind is the fact that we promised $120,000 to Urban Ministries and we don't want to let them down," said Kannan. "We don't want to let the people in need down."
If last year's Charity Ball is any indication, where students exceeded their goal of donating $100,000 to Learning Together, an early childhood education center, by $18,000, Urban Ministries will be getting a big hand up during Saturday night's check presentation.
"Last year that was one of the most exciting things I've ever experienced," said Benjamin Hogewood, Charity Ball organizer. "To know that the hard work that we put in had that huge of an impact and that we crushed our goal- it was incredible."
Every year, the selection process is entirely student-driven. Students review requests from charities hoping to become beneficiaries, they do site visits and interviews before deciding on one to support.
"The reputation is so strong at this point that we have people beating down our doors to come to us," said Nate Barilich, Enloe High School English teacher and Charity Ball Director. "These are kids that raise money at professional levels. They are philanthropists through and through. They hold events, they go door to door, they go on phone calls, they make cold calls, they get sponsorships up to $5,000. These are things that local non-profits aren't even able to achieve in themselves."
Enloe senior and Charity Ball organizer Marissa Ferrell said this year, Urban Ministries stood out from the rest.
"It seemed like the perfect package to me because they tackle hunger, homelessness, and healthcare," she said.
Urban Ministries of Wake County Exec. Dir. Peter Morris said he was overjoyed to learn the students had chosen to honor the non-profit this year. Since settling on Urban Ministries, they've been serving and putting in volunteer hours at the healthcare center and food pantry on Capital Blvd.
"When we see them enthusiastically coming and doing the things we do to keep running it makes me say, how do we keep that going?" said Morris.
Morris is planning to spend the money over a three-year period with the possibility of hiring a nutritionist or launching more wellness programs.
For the students, it goes beyond helping people in need.
"It's not making yourself feel better by helping them," said Ferrell. "It's giving them the confidence to feel that they are a part of this community because they are."
Tickets to Saturday's Charity Ball at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh sold out early, but anyone interested can still make a donation online: http://enloestuco.com/