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Why Make A Donation to the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society?

For all my adult life I would always try and write a small check for the Heart Fund and Special Olympics and other worthy charities as their appeals for money came in the mail each year. I knew they did good work. But now as Treasurer of the OBLHS I see things "from the other side." I see needs that should be met in preserving and saving our lighthouse history but many can not be met because the money just isn't there...yet. With your help, projects helping our lighthouses can become a dream-come-true.

There are so many pressing needs today and money is tough to come by--but, why is there such a need now for lighthouses? Mainly because we are in the early days of lighthouse preservation. It has been just in the last decade that lighthouses have gone from navigational aids cared for by the Coast Guard to historic monuments. Today, the Coast Guard is caught between new demands for Homeland Security and hundreds of aging lighthouses needing major repairs. They took a realistic look and decided these old structures aren’t needed anymore and continued to be a drain on the Coast Guard’s limited budget. So, hundred of lighthouses are up for disposal to non-profits, state and national parks, and local governments. All over America lighthouses are crumbling, waiting for restorations. What about North Carolina? Bodie Island (1872), Ocracoke (1823), and Cape Lookout (1859) Lighthouses have never had needed restorations. Over the years the Coast Guard did patchwork repairs which became fewer as budgets became tighter. Pieces of the catwalk are falling off the Bodie Island Light. The stairs have holes. The roof may literally blow off in the next hurricane. And the first order Fresnel lens, one of the few still operating in its original tower, needs complete restoration. We want to keep it in place and a working lens. The National Park Service has asked for our help. Companies and individuals are stepping in to help the National Park Service meet the needs for lighthouses. Better Homes and Gardens and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have picked Bodie Island Lighthouse as one of their ten historic places which most need help. Their financial aid is much appreciated, but much more is needed. Every dollar helps and your donation will be warmly acknowledged. And it's not just the buildings. Historic documents, the building plans, and artifacts like lighthouse clocks and brass oilcans need to be found and save for future displays. The last of the keeper's children, now in their eighties and older, need to be recorded. The OBLHS did provide funds for the purchase of the original 2nd Bodie Island Lighthouse plans when they were put up for sale at an estate auction in New England. These next few years are so important for lighthouse restoration; however, Federal funds are scare. The opportunities will not be here forever. So the real question is "How much lighthouse history do you want to save for the future?" The answer: As much as we can! Help us!

Bruce Roberts