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The Honor Card is a special way to give back during the holidays, and this is a significant year for it

Artist Bill Mangum has painted the Honor Card for 35 years. It all started when he became friends with a man experiencing homelessness.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A love for North Carolina and its beautiful sceneries can be seen in William Mangum's work.

“Well for me art is a language in itself,” Mangum said. “It's a bridge. It's a conduit where you can verbally use the strength of that imagery and tell that story."

To date, Mangum has created more than 4,000 paintings, sold all around the world. One of his most cherished projects is The Honor Card. The Honor Card is an annual painting that raises awareness and funds for the needy and homeless across North Carolina. An unexpected friendship helped spark the idea.

“In 1987, I had the good fortune of befriending a fella by the name of Mike Saavedra,” Mangum said. “He was a homeless individual that I met at a local Hardees restaurant. That wound up turning into a three-year friendship where ultimately I became Mike Saavedra's caretaker because not only was he homeless, he was mentally ill."

For 35 years, Mangum's annual Honor Card program has generated more than ten million dollars to support local agencies across North Carolina. Nearly six million dollars have benefited the Greensboro Urban Ministry.  

Chip Berry is the Director of Development for the Greensboro Urban Ministry. He said The Honor Card is the organization’s biggest fundraiser.

“Obviously rent has gone up with the housing crisis here in Guilford County,” Berry said.  “A typical person who comes to us they've seen their rent go up from about $750-$800 a month to about $1,200 a month in a short period of time. So, the resources we get from the Honor Card allow us to help as many people as possible.”

This year's Honor Card is titled "Making a Difference." It's a tribute to Mangum’s 35th and final year participating in the program.

Credit: WFMY

“The painting is symbolic because in the painting is me and Mike,” Mangum said. “Mike would have been 67 this year if he had still lived. But he really pricked a lot of people’s hearts, and his testimony continues to live on.”

Though Mangum will no longer paint the images on the Honor Card, Berry said the program will continue with a new artist.  

“I'm really proud of the fact that this is the capstone to a program that I'm bringing to a close, at least my participation,” Mangum said. “The Honor Card has been a significant fundraiser because the community has embraced it.”  

With a donation of just $5 or more, you can send an honor card to a friend or family member this holiday season. A hundred percent of the gifts of your donation will support homeless shelters across the state.  

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