Friday, December 18, 2009

To begin with, let me express my thanks to everyone who responded to our calls for donations during the holiday season and found the compassion to provide gifts of food or monetary contributions to make this time of year a little less distressing for those in need. As I said last time, the lines of hungry and despairing people wanting just to provide for their families during a time when so many of us take food for granted reached record lengths. I am happy to say that we did not turn anyone away empty-handed.

Just the other week we wrapped up the 11th annual Share Your Holiday Food Drive, and I wanted to express my thanks to everyone who helped us transform a cold, damp parking garage in downtown Columbia into a bustling donation nerve center and television studio. This is the 11th year we have partnered with WACH Fox to put on this day-long, drive-through food drive at First Baptist Church. Despite the rain and gloomy weather, I am happy to say that we took in 1.78 million pounds of food during the food drive, and a large amount of monetary donations. This exceeds last year’s donation level, and will go a long way toward helping us feed the hungry through the holiday season. Thank you to our great sponsors: SCE&G, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Palmetto GBA, SCANA, First Baptist Church, Citadel Broadcasting and Food Lion. Thank you to companies like the Mungo Company and Wachovia Wells Fargo for showing up with generous cash donations. Thank you to First Baptist Church for giving us such a wonderful central location to work from. And of course thank you to everyone at WACH Fox who worked with us from 5:00 am to 7:30 pm.

I wish I could say the need for your concern and donations was over. But the necessity for hunger relief is still ever-present in our community. We anticipate the demand for food next week to reach all time highs, and so there are still those unfortunates who struggle to make their modest incomes sufficient for all their needs, and are forced to make the difficult decision to turn to us for help.

If you have given to us recently, then I urge you to make your friends and family aware of  the warmth and comfort you derived from knowing that you helped others in their time of need and despair. Let them know how much giving has meant to you as well as those who are suffering. And let them know that this week we are pleased to participate in several events meant to make giving not just rewarding, but convenient and perhaps even fun.

At this time, I think it is important to talk about need in our community. Need that comes from so many of our neighbors who seek assistance in putting food on the table. This is something that many of us take absolutely for granted. Let me give you an example: the other morning I went to make a quick breakfast before coming to work, and I was little put out when I discovered that I was out of milk for my coffee and bread to make toast. The first thing I thought was: I don’t have anything to make for breakfast.  And then I realized I had eggs, I had cheese, and easily a half dozen other things to make for my breakfast.  But for so many of our suffering and hungry neighbors, when they say they don’t have anything to make for breakfast, they really mean they don’t have ANYTHING. Not for themselves, not for their children and not for the others in their family. Not for breakfast…not for lunch…and not for dinner. The next time you walk into your kitchen, I want you to look around and see how much food you really have, and try to imagine not having anything in the refrigerator or pantry. Then try to imagine not having any idea where your next meal will come from. That’s the reality for so many of our neighbors spread over the 20 counties that Harvest Hope serves. That’s what I mean by need.

To finish up, I would like to encourage everyone this holiday season to give a gift to the hungry children, seniors and needy families in our community through our Holiday Gift Catalog. We are offering opportunities to people who want to make a financial donation to the food bank in honor of someone for the holidays.  It’s easy – just call with your credit card or send a check along with the names and addresses of the honorees and we’ll take care of the rest. Take a look at the Holiday Gift page on our website to find out how easy and affordable it is.

Before I wrap things up this time I would like to leave you with two thoughts on the joy and power of giving:

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Corinthians 9:12

 We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers. Seneca

We hope to see hear from you soon, and bless you for your generous gifts,

Denise Holland

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