Wednesday, June 23, 2010

For most, the summer months become a time of relaxation and retreat, and a time of family. With children out of school and daylight hours stretching late into the evening families can spend more time together on vacations, weekend getaways, late afternoon excursions and other leisure activities. For many, the summer is a time of relaxation and togetherness.

For many families across South Carolina, however, the summer means an increased challenge in putting food on the table. For many low-income and at-risk children, their staple meals are the reduced-price or free breakfasts and lunches they are served at school. With schools closed for three months, financially hard-pressed parents must now provide two additional meals per child per day. No one wants to see their children go hungry. Imagine going to the kitchen to look for food for your hungry child, but already knowing you are going to find the cupboard and refrigerator empty. Try to imagine the despair you would feel wondering where you will turn to find food for your family, not just for a meal or snack right now, but for the days to come.

Over the last year, one in four children under the age of five in South Carolina went to bed hungry. Now that school is out we know from experience that number is going to increase. At this time of year we see families coming to us to alleviate the despair and hunger they feel when there is no food in their own kitchen. Many of them have not come to us for some time, but their need is urgent now and they know they can count on us. But the summer is often a difficult time for Harvest Hope as well.

The summer is traditionally a slow period for donations to Harvest Hope. With everything going on at this time of year it is easy for people to forget about anything not related to the logistics of vacations, summer camps and other family activities. But summer is one of the peak demand periods of the year for us. And with a downturn in donations, it becomes more difficult for us to meet the needs of the hungry families who make the difficult decision to turn to us. The need increases, yet the donations diminish. We are fortunate that so many people reveal their generosity and give during the holidays. But we cannot ignore the need at this time, or turn away the hungry families coming to us right now. They need us to help them. Just as we need our donors to continue their support and contributions during this difficult period.

Please take the time to go online at and donate what you can. Harvest Hope can dedicate 98¢ out of every dollar donated to feeding the hungry. We can turn $1 into 7 pounds of food for the needy. We can feed a family for a week with $9. With your contributions, we can make sure those who come to us during the summer months will leave with the food they need to provide for everyone, especially the children, who comes to their tables. Donating through our website, especially our Gift Catalog is easy and convenient. Give what you can and we will make it go far.

Last week a radio talk show host discussed the topic of hungry children home for the summer. For some reason, perhaps because in our line of work we associate with so many compassionate and caring people, I anticipated he would urge listeners to open their hearts and donate to help feed their hungry neighbors. But that was not his intention at all. This man suggested that children who need to feed themselves during the summer should go the alleys behind restaurants and eat discarded food found in their trash bins. After hearing this, it took several minutes for the reality of his statements to sink in. I did not want to believe what I had just heard. My mind and heart could not accept the fact that there are really people who could think such a thing, and advocate it over the public airways. Are we really to believe there are people who wish for our children to crawl through garbage and fight rats and insects for their food ?  Is this the kind of society we want to live in?

It is difficult to contain my anger and despair at the thought that some people would actually wish for children to hunt for scraps of nourishment among the refuse. I can only pray that this point of view is not common and only held by a marginalized number of people disassociated with the realities of the communities they live in. I can only hope the radio host’s comments were said for shock effect, and intended to elicit response and outrage for the mere sake of response and outrage. I wonder if he even believes the things he says, and hope that the majority of his listeners do not hold with such abhorrent notions of society and humanity. 

We are fortunate at Harvest Hope. We see the best of humanity daily. We see and hear from the people who believe it is our responsibility to look after others less fortunate and know it is also the best way to look after ourselves. Our spirits benefit and grow from the love we show toward strangers and the compassion we bestow on people in need. I am fortunate to know there are so many donors who understand and support our outreach to end hunger in South Carolina. Your thoughts and blessings give us all hope to continue to believe in the true loving nature of the human spirit.

With Warmest Thanks,

Denise Holland

A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.  ~Proverbs 29:11

Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.  ~Proverbs 30:8

A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune's inequality exhibits under this sun.  ~Thomas Carlyle