Three Morehead-Cain Scholars from the Class of 2024 launch Heels for the Homeless, a charity that supports local homeless shelters across North Carolina

Oct 06, 2020

Morehead-Cain Scholars Andrea Cornel, Katy Waddell, and Molly Dorgan from the Class of 2024 have launched a charity to support local homeless shelters throughout the region and state.

Heels for the Homeless seeks to raise awareness on issues surrounding homelessness through virtual fundraising efforts beginning this month. The first event, “The Great Mask Run,” is a 5K race where runners can participate on their own time between October 26 and October 31.

All proceeds will go toward purchasing reusable masks for partnering shelters, according to Heels for the Homeless co-founder Andrea Cornel of Raleigh. The charity is collaborating with organizations and educational institutions throughout the southeast, including the Durham Rescue Mission, student groups and faculty at UNC and Davidson College, and the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“When the three of us first started looking for ways to help those affected by homelessness, we learned that many shelters around the Triangle Area were struggling with a lack of COVID-19-specific support, especially when it came to having enough face masks,” Andrea said. As a student at Needham B. Broughton High School, Andrea founded Dig for Duke, an initiative that has raised more than $30,000 for Duke Children’s Hospital.

Homeless populations in the United States are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and contracting severe illnesses due to underlying medical conditions compared to those who have stable housing conditions, according to the CDC’s Center for Global Health.

For the October race, runners are invited to wear their favorite mask and track their progress via the Heels for the Homeless club on the Strava app, a running and cycling tracker. Tickets cost $15 per runner and the first 100 to sign up will receive a free t-shirt. Register for the event.

‘Tar Heel Talks’ to feature experts, educators on timely topics

Beginning in January 2021, Heels for the Homeless will release a subscription service for how-to videos and education-based content through their website.

The series, “Tar Heel Talks,” will feature faculty experts and students from the University and area schools as well as other members of the Carolina community and beyond, said co-founder Molly Dorgan of Waynesville.

The first-year scholar, who plans to double major in mathematics and philosophy at the University, said the organization’s goal is to “uplift the community by combining service with learning opportunities.” 

The 10- to 60-minute, pre-recorded lessons and entertainment videos will focus on a range of topics, including sports, cooking, news, politics, and academic research, among others.

Sharing stories of impact

As part of its mission, Heels for the Homeless will also seek to amplify the voices and stories of the homeless populations in Chapel Hill and the Triangle Area, said co-founder Katy Waddell of Acworth, Georgia. The scholar, who attended Baylor School, worked as editor-in-chief for her boarding school’s newspaper in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“In accurately portraying stories about the impact of homelessness on individuals through stories, podcasts, and videos, we hope to engage the public in learning more about the issue and why these groups need our help, especially during a pandemic,” she said.

The charity is seeking volunteers for its media team and other efforts. To join Heels for the Homeless, contact them via email. Other Morehead-Cain Scholars involved include Ira Wilder ’24 of Henderson and Ellie Hummel ’24 of Louisville, Kentucky.

Anyone can also get involved by packing care kits to be distributed at homeless shelters through the organization’s COVID-19 Care Kit Initiative. Heels for the Homeless will host a “packing party” Zoom event on Saturday, December 5.

All items included on the packing list are based on recommendations provided by the CDC, Katy said. 

Follow Heels for the Homeless on Instagram or Facebook.


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