Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This past summer I read a great book called "The Noticer: Sometimes All a Person Needs is a Little Perspective" by Andy Andrews.  It was a wonderful book, recommended on several faith reading lists, and I will use it for a book study at my church in a few weeks.

This book is a great story about a wonderful person watching and noticing when someone needs help and how to provide encouragement to move beyond the disappointments, frustrations, and failures in life.

Reading this book brought to mind some comments that are often asked by others about the hungry families, children and the elderly we feed.  We are often approached and asked why are the clients talking on cell phones, or a question will get asked about why we are serving a mother who has acrylic nails, or a particular type of car in our parking lot.  I would like to share some perspectives and beliefs about Harvest Hope.

Cell phones are sometimes much cheaper than a regular land line and for a family who is losing their shelter or can't afford to pay utilities this is the only way to go as it is portable.  In our Emergency Food Pantry, we actually did ask a client why she had acrylic nails but came to Harvest Hope for food?  She said she bartered for her nails by keeping her next door neighbor's children and the mom who needed child care was a nail technician. She gave this lady free acrylic nails in exchange for the babysitting so she could go to work.  The lady who came into the pantry was also looking for full time work as she kept these children in the evening.  Sometimes it does appear that some of the cars in our parking lot may look to be expensive models.  Some indeed may be on occasion, but they also may be vehicles operated by our volunteers, visitors, board members or possibly a person who is giving a ride to a client. But for the sake of argument let's just say that this is not the case.  Many clients, when a volunteer goes to help them put food in their cars, appear to be living out of their cars as this is their only form of shelter. Frankly, as unfortunate as this is a $200 or $300 or even higher car payment a month is cheaper than rent and utilities.

Now please don't mistake that we agree with how some of the emergency situations are handled, but I like to think that when faced with some situations each of us would do all we could to keep our families together...all in all these are other perspectives.  More importantly, there are six general recurring reasons why someone is at risk for hunger: unemployment, inability to pay rent and utilities, lack of transportation, a catastrophic event in someone's life's (any of these would be catastrophic, but also consider loss of a spouse or other loved one), can't afford medicine or medical care, or being disabled.

Here's something else to think about: we have pretty hard statistics documented from FRAC (Food Research Action Council), Feeding America and others, that the SNAP (food stamp) program does not provide enough food to last all month. But if we can help get families get on SNAP and then give them 90 pounds per person we only see them at our food pantry an average of three times in the course of a year. Our records at Columbia's Emergency Food Pantries show that the majority of people who ask us for food come just three times and then overcome whatever economic crisis or disaster they faced that left them without food on their table. With their immediate crisis overcome, they can go on to support themselves and purchase their own groceries as they need, just like we would all prefer. In addition, for any of those six reasons listed above we try hard to give the clients resources to help them out with whatever other needs brought them to us in the first place. But our main mission is to give them enough food to take the need for food off of the table for a period of time so they can go deal with those issues.  What we want to prevent is giving them just a little bit of food that only takes them through a day or so because then that just creates this toxic, never-ending cycle of always seeking food because they are hungry.  And we all know that if you are hungry you really can't focus on anything else.

We really want the same thing our clients want: to get re-employed.  I have heard this statement many times and said it many times myself...'it is always better to have some type of work. It may be menial or less than what one is trained to do, but you can always keep looking for the dream job/career while you have a job'.

So at Harvest Hope, we truly want to work ourselves out of a job, we want to get people who are at risk of hunger enough food so they can go deal with any of those six repetitive issues that brought them here in the first place.  There are several other good ideas to help as well that includes things like couponing, gardening, and preparing food well, etc that we are also exploring.  We want to be involved in these areas solely for our clients who need to also explore how to stretch their food dollars. However, we also have our main purpose and that is to provide food-and this continues to be serving an average of 48,000 people every week across 20 SC counties.

Now, none of this can happen without the appropriate resources to get the job done.  These resources include food, finances and volunteers-all of which are incredibly important.  For us to give 90 pounds per person we have to have great food supplies.  We have seen and continue to expect to see a total of six to seven million pounds less in USDA food over the course of this calendar year.  Therefore all donated food and particularly food drives are very much needed.  In addition, for us to pick up tractor trailers of donated food that is offered to us from all over the US, we have to pay transportation, continue to have warehousing and  we have our own 20 refrigerated trucks that work within the state to pick up local donated food from wholesalers, retailers and others.  All of this requires financial donations and to be very honest, financial donations continue to be very low.  Since 2007, for every donor we had, we have had to augment that single donor with finding four more. Financial donations are tenuous and there are weeks when I truly worry about having sufficient funds to keep us going.  This has been our new normal for going on five years. This is not just our new normal, but everyone's new normal.

While all of this is very true and heartfelt, keeping our perspective and faith each day is critical.  We are also constantly working to gain and refine our perspectives each day, as a pledge to keep going forward to provide for our most vulnerable, and to work with others to help the people we serve get to a point that they don't need us and are empowered, skilled, and using all of their capabilities to help themselves.  Please stay tuned for the next blog issue expected to be released Oct. 15, 2012 about one such true story of Harvest Hope and a positive impact on taking just one from unemployed to employed.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Where did the summer go? It seems like only yesterday that Harvest Hope projected our needs to make sure we had enough resources to feed hungry families across 20 counties for the three months of summer.  We ended up distributing almost 1 million pounds of food a week through June, July and so far in August. In June the food bank saw an average of 325 families A DAY at the Emergency Food Pantries on Shop Road and on 12th Street in Cayce, and provided food for over 6,820 families during the month. This is an increase of more than 800 families over June of 2011!

The impact of providing this much food greatly strained our resources and by late July we were facing empty shelves in Florence, Columbia and Greenville. Even though donation levels remain consistent with last year, the increase in demand over last year has almost depleted our food supplies. Our shelves were empty – but hungry families were turning to us in greater numbers than ever before.

You may have seen the news stories our media partners have run in response to our call for help. We saw that many responded and opened their hearts to help provide for their hungry neighbors. Donation levels increased and many sent notes with their donations showing their concern. Our food levels have slowly begun to resume minimum operating levels, but there is still a huge shortfall between what we are putting out and what we need. Our Florence facility has almost no resources to provide food to rural areas through our Mobile Food Pantries. They have far too little to fill our trucks to take out into the heavily impacted and impoverished rural communities in the Pee Dee. We are so thankful to receive the blessings from the many who opened their hearts, but clearly we have a ways to go to make sure we provide for all who struggle with hunger.

But today I heard a story that touched my heart and truly shows how even the youngest and smallest among us can do their part to help and show their love for others. A young man in Orangeburg, just five years old, set up a folding table in front of his house and colored a paper table cloth with crayons and sold popsicles over the weekend. At first his parents thought that he, like most kids his age, was trying to raise money to buy a new video game. But he had something different in mind. He was telling everyone who came to his popsicle stand he was raising money to, in his own words, “feed the hungry people.” He had heard his parents talking about the news stories they saw about us. He raised $163 and donated it all to Harvest Hope. That’s 775 meals! What a great example to others, both children and adults, about what even the simplest of efforts can achieve when you show your love to care for others.

We want to make your compassion and generosity, your dedication to give to be as simple and convenient as possible. We want everyone who gives to Harvest Hope know they can become a Beacon of Hope when they open their hearts to give. Now thanks to a new Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) donation plan we have put in place, donating is simpler than ever and your donations will help us even more.

With your EFT recurring gift plan, YOU decide your gift amount, HOW OFTEN and WHEN you choose to give and for how long. Just tell us the amount and day of the month. It takes just a minute to set up, and then you no longer need to take time out of your day to think about giving. You become a Beacon of Hope automatically! As an EFT recurring donor, you can reduce our mailing and data entry costs. Harvest Hope already spends only 2¢ out of every $1 donated to administrative costs, and through EFT giving we hope to spend even less!

As more donors enroll for EFT giving, it allows us to know how much our donations will be and when, and can more effectively plan how to dedicate our resources to feeding hungry families across 20 SC counties. This way we can hopefully avoid the immediate and critical shortages we faced recently. Call us at 803.254.4432 and ask about how easy it is to become a Beacon of Hope and enroll in EFT giving.

You can take comfort each month that the simplest of efforts continues to provide for those who struggle with hunger.

With continued blessings and deepest appreciation,

Denise Holland

Monday, June 25, 2012

A baby with young parents, serving the military, and me-It is a God thing.
Please read.  It will take 3 minutes.

Two weeks ago, one night about 9:30 pm, returning from Walmart, I walked back into my house sobbing because my heart was completely filled with many emotions.  My husband looked at me confused, asking what is wrong as a trip to Walmart normally does not do this.

I sat down and told him the following very true, very moving story...I hope you will feel moved and called to action.

Upon finishing my shopping,  I got in a long checkout line in the non-food section.  I was there after 9pm to pick up a few last minute items for a children's activity at church.  I was behind a young couple, with a small baby sitting in the infant portion of the buggy.  They caught my attention. I was struck at how much the young man with his wife reminded me of my own grown children.  A nice appearance, the young man had on athletic type shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops, the young lady had on jeans and a hoodie, the baby was clean and dressed in a little onesie.  As I stood there, I noticed a little more.  They were wearing very simple wedding bands, and the dad kept putting his hand on the back of his wife and child's mother, saying "are you feeling ok?"  "Do you want to go sit in the car?" She did look in my opinion pale like she did not feel really great.  I heard her reply very nicely to him, "no I am fine" and smiled back at her husband.

Well naturally I started playing with the baby, making silly old lady sounds and faces to get the baby to smile and laugh.  The baby's dad (obviously a little girl by the pink onesie) occasionally touched the little baby and bent down to kiss her neck of which she just giggled and smiled.  At one point he looked back at me and I said to him, "that little girl certainly loves her daddy's kisses". He smiled and said yes.  The couple then gave their attention to counting the items in their buggy and began a sorting process counting out 10 jars of baby food, separating them in rows in the buggy.  Then it struck me that all they had in their buggy was jars of baby food and several canisters of baby formula.  The mom and dad appeared to be in low conversation like they were worried and checking twice everything they had.  I continued to play (at a respectful distance) with the baby.

While I stood there, I prayed "Lord this could be my children" and I felt in my heart that they were concerned about the amount in their buggy. 

A register right next to our line opened up.  I immediately looked over to the couple and said, “This register is open, ya’ll go ahead and moved my buggy so they could move pass me.”  The young man said to me, “oh you go ahead” motioning forward, but I replied, “no I am behind you-you go.”  I felt the Lord telling me (urging me) on to stay with this couple.

We got in the next line and the couple started placing the baby food on the register belt the same as they had separated in the buggy.  They added a coupon of some type on the top of each 20 or so jars.  They continued to give each other these worried looks.  The cashier started ringing the items up and about the 4th jar she looked at the woman and said, “This jar of mixed fruit cannot be charged to your coupon.  Your coupon only covers the single fruit jars.”  The young mother looked devastated and looked at her husband with this look that to me was interpreted as, “what do we do now”?  She placed her head in her hand and laid it on the check writing stand.  The young man, very sweetly asked the cashier, “We have gotten this same type of mixed fruit before, what has changed?”  The cashier stated that she was sorry and that it was possible some cashiers always don’t pay attention, but the mixed fruit jars of baby food are not covered.  The cashier said, “I am sorry but I have to obey the rules.”  He accepted this but the couple maintained their very worried looks.  As I watched, it appeared to me that more than half of the baby food jars were being put back in front of the register and taken off of the belt.   Their expressions to each other broke my heart.

I felt the Lord’s yearning again and a clear command, “move Denise, do the right thing.”  I immediately stepped forward, looking at the cashier, and said, “Please stop, add everything that you have put aside to my bill.  I am more than happy to pay for this.”  I looked at the couple and smiled saying, “This is something I want to do, please allow me to help you and this precious baby.”  The young mother’s eyes completely filled with tears, and she made her way back to me and hugged me very tightly saying “thank you.”  The young dad said the same and hugged me as well.   I told them and the cashier, “this is the Lord’s doing!”  I asked the parents did they need anything else such as diapers or wipes?  The mother looked at me and said, “no we have plenty of that it is just the food we were concerned about for her (the baby).”  She hugged me again. The cashier then told them they could go get more for one coupon, but I interjected and told the couple to put that left over coupon back in their wallet for another time and that I would take care of everything that was left. 

The young mother hugged me again and I reached into my purse and grabbed my Harvest Hope business card giving her one and said to them, “If you need anything else for this baby please call me”.  The young dad looked at the card and he came to me and hugged me with tears falling from his eyes.  Frankly, we all were crying.  He said, “Thank you so much! I am leaving in two weeks for the military and we are just trying to take care of much as we can before I leave, as transportation will not be easy for her.”  I immediately put my hand to my chest and felt the power of the Lord.  Here was a young man preparing to go fight for our freedom and doing the very right thing to take care of his family.  I grabbed both his hand and his wife’s hand saying with tears of joy, “You take care of yourself! You have a lot to return home for. ” I looked at the mom and said, “if you need me, please call me”.  They turned and both said thank you to me so sweetly, picked up their baby and walked away.

The cashier said to me at least 5 times, “thank you for doing that”.  I said, “It is everything the Lord does. I did very little but willingly stepped up as He led me”. 

Tears were falling quickly down my face almost rendering me speechless.  I loaded my bags and walked to the door.  As I got to the outside of the parking lot, I could not remember much less see where I had parked my car.  I stood there at the entrance pointed in the direction to my left, hitting the button on my remote to beep my horn.  Suddenly I heard, “Angel lady!  Angel lady!  Your car is right here”.  It was the young man and we were parked on the same row on opposite sides.  I yelled, “thank you” and he said again, “oh, we thank you.”

I got in my car, thanking the Lord that He allowed me to work for Him and prayed for this family, praying and crying all the way home.  The money spent was less than what most people spend on one meal going out to a restaurant.   This situation was not about me, nor about the money spent—both are inconsequential.  What was important was that the Lord did everything to put me behind this young family in line, and He moved my spirit to act as His follower to do the right thing.  I pray I did this all to His Glory!

This is what hunger is about.  This was a family worried about getting food for their baby, before the dad left to go fight for our freedom.  They needed help and help was provided.  I feel blessed that God used me in this way and pray that at Harvest Hope, our staff, volunteers and our donors understand how vital they are to make it possible to feed people every single day in many ways.  Whether it is assisting with our 400 agencies who depend on us for food, or helping the families that stand in the hot sun each day waiting at our own Emergency Food Pantries, or volunteering at one of 40+ mobile food pantries in rural areas, or contributing to our children’s programs or our senior programs—YOU are helping make this kind of assistance a real help.

As we approach our fiscal year end, Harvest Hope is $300,000 short of meeting budget, yet our demand is up over 21%.  If this story moved you, will you right now click here to make a donation to assure that we can continue to serve hungry families?  I hope you will hear the same calling that I hear, that you will be urged to move and do the right thing, right now. God is speaking, will you act? 

As we approach this July 4th weekend, we are mindful both to be thankful for you our donors, our volunteers, our sponsors, each staff person and for every agency out there in our 20 counties that continues the work of making sure no one goes to bed hungry.

My wishes for all families to be fed, our armed forces to return home safely, and for us all to be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy because of those who have fought and fight for our country.

God Bless you and God Bless America!  Happy 4th, Denise

Friday, June 1, 2012

There are many different ways to know the coming of each season.  We know summertime is here when the days are longer and hotter, mowing the lawn becomes a weekly pastime, everyone starts talking about their vacation plans and kids are home from school and plundering the kitchen cabinets for snacks all day long.

At Harvest Hope we know summertime is truly here when the waiting room in our Emergency Food Pantry starts filling to capacity first thing in the morning – everyday. We know it’s summer when the line of hungry people outside our buildings at Shop Road and 12th Street in Cayce stretch down the sidewalk, and we jump from providing food to 600-700 people a day to over 1,100-1,200 people a day. We know it’s summer when our agency partners need more food because their pantries are running out. We know it’s summer when we start seeing more families and more children at our doorsteps.

The first two days after Memorial Day we were greeted by long lines outside the EFP and saw so many faces of hunger at our doorstep before we could even open. We served over 850 families in two days. We know summertime is here and we know it is going to be long and difficult for so many families.

South Carolina is second in the nation for families suffering from food hardship, with 24% of our population struggling to pay for food. This summer families will struggle to replace the school meals that normally provide nourishment for their children. Seniors will struggle to manage paying for their medication and housing expenses. Working mothers and fathers will wonder what they can do to make sure they have a roof over their heads and reliable ways to get back and forth to their jobs while they worry if they will even have a job tomorrow.

To meet the needs of all of them, of everyone struggling with hunger from the Pee Dee, through the Midlands and up to Greenville and Laurens Counties, Harvest Hope needs to distribute over 5 million pounds of food in June, July and August. We know we cannot do it without help from compassionate souls in our SC communities, and we are blessed to have help from community partners who have helped us find innovative ways to make donating easier.

Wells Fargo is a very special sponsor giving the South Carolina Food Bank Association a challenge grant of $150,000 split between all of the 4 food banks if we can match it prior to June 15.  This is very important and you can make your donation double by taking just a minute right now to make a donation at

Other ways to easily help would be to visit a Corner Pantry station for gas or a snack, please also consider spending $1 or $5 and complete an "I HOPE" card for Harvest Hope.  This promotion is going on right now and throughout all of June at all 32 Corner Pantry filling station locations are selling our HOPE Floats mission cards. You can visit their stores in Columbia, Chapin, Lexington, Hartsville, Irmo, Manning, Orangeburg, Sumter and West Columbia and after filling up stop in to make an easy $1 to $5 donation by buying a HOPE Floats card and leave a simple message of your Hope. Last year this wonderful partnership gave us the means to provide over 23,000 meals to the hungry in our community, and with your support we hope to see an even greater result this June.

Most long-time Greenville residents are familiar with The Clock drive-in restaurants, which have been serving up great diner style local fare for decades. The location on White Horse Road has pitched in to help feed hungry families in the Upstate by selling HOPE Floats cards, so plan to cruise past and show your support when you’re in the area.

As summer is a time for families and family activities, Harvest Hope is proud to partner for the third year with Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens for Toucan Tuesdays. Every Tuesday this summer, two can visit Riverbanks for the price of one with a donation of two cans of non-perishable food to Harvest Hope. Toucan Tuesdays will run for 12 consecutive Tuesdays throughout the summer, ending on August 28.

Riverbanks Zoo visitors donated nearly 2,000 pounds of food during last year's Toucan Tuesdays campaign, which helped provide meals for those struggling to feed their families. This summer we’re hoping that visitors will enjoy the many attractions at Riverbanks Zoo and double that amount! 

We are more than thrilled to enter our second summer partnering with ABC Columbia and McDonalds for the ABCs of Hunger. Be sure to watch any ABC Columbia newscast for information and updates on the food drive, and drop off canned good donations at any of the McDonalds restaurant locations in Columbia.

This is also the time of year for Harvest Hope’s EXTRA Mile Campaign. The EXTRA Mile Campaign is our summer hunger relief program and offers a simple way for everyone to go the extra mile to help others during the summer months. All we ask is for everyone to skip a lunch just once a week until August 31 and donate the equivalent of a day’s lunch money to the EXTRA Mile Campaign. For example, $10 a week for 12 weeks would be $120, which would provide over 540 meals for a hungry family.

Take thirty seconds to think about someone who skips a meal not because they choose to or because it might be convenient but because the food is not there and they do not know where their next meal will even come from. Try to put yourself in that mindset for just thirty seconds, and then realize that’s the reality many people in South Carolina face every minute of every day.They fear there will be no food on the table at each meal and wishing will not change that.

If someone needs help putting food on their table – no matter where they may live in South Carolina – then they are a part of our community and we must find a way to help them. We must put food on their tables.

We are so grateful to so many community partners who provide many, many ways to donate to Harvest Hope. You can help us make sure we find the means to feed the hungry as summer begins.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones and thank you for all you do to help others,


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Imagine a child who does not look forward to the joy of summer.

The summer months are a challenging time for families across South Carolina.  Throughout the school year, 54% of school age children in our state are on the free or reduced price lunch program. Eighty-four per cent are on the free or reduced price breakfast program.

24% of South Carolina’s children live in poverty.

The free or reduced price meals served at South Carolina schools give struggling families a little economic breathing room. With 24.4% of our children living below the basic poverty level, the meals they are served in school are the most nutritious and dependable they get throughout the year. Many of these school age children bring portions of their school meals home to share with their younger siblings. But for three months those children are at home, and do not have access to this lifeline. Their parents must cope with providing two additional meals per day per child, and it is often beyond their means. While many of us think of summer as a time of vacation, for almost 350,000 South Carolina children summer is a time of anxiety and pain.

There is no vacation from hunger.

South Carolina’s four food banks - Golden Harvest Food Bank, Harvest Hope Food Bank, Lowcountry Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina – all see a tremendous surge in need during the summer months. Collectively, our four hunger relief organizations must find the means to raise and distribute 15 million pounds of food during June, July and August this year to meet that need. As CEO of Harvest Hope, as a long-serving member of the South Carolina Food Bank Association (which comprises the four food banks listed above) and someone who stays in constant contact with my colleagues at the three other South Carolina hunger relief non-profits, I know what a challenge it is to find the resources to get this food when most everyone is thinking of vacation and our donation levels drop. It is a challenge for all of us.

Fortunately, there is a valuable and generous new partner to help us meet that challenge.

To help feed the hungry in South Carolina communities, the South Carolina Food Bank Association announces the Border to Border Hunger Challenge sponsored by Wells Fargo, a statewide donation matching campaign that will provide $150,000 to help hungry people through our food banks. From now until June 15, Wells Fargo will match donations made to our state’s four food banks one to one once they collectively raise $150,000.

This generous matching campaign will help our food banks as they enter the most difficult and demanding time of the year. The Border to Border Hunger Challenge sponsored by Wells Fargo will provide a wonderful beginning at this difficult time of year by giving a financial boost to us to start the summer.

Donating is easy – visit  to learn more about the Border to Border Hunger Challenge. Choose from the tabs on the left of the page to easily donate to your local food bank and your gift will automatically be matched! Every donation made to any of the four food banks from May 14 to June 15 will be matched and will greatly help in our efforts to feed hungry children this summer.

This is also a time of year to think about those that have made a difference in our lives and about giving in their honor or memory. Is there a teacher who has made a lasting impact on your children? An armed services member you know who would be honored by knowing that a hungry family had more on their table because of them? You can make an Honorarium gift to honor friends, family members, business colleagues, neighbors or others close to you to help in our mission of feeding hungry families. Find out how donate a memoriam or honorarium: Tabitha Demetra –

So please take a little time out from planning all the wonderful family activities you have in mind for the summer, and think of those families who cannot even plan on their next good meal. Know that for a limited time your generous efforts to help them will be met by the generosity of Wells Fargo. Your gifts will go far toward feeding our hungry South Carolina children.

And for that kindness I am grateful.

In loving appreciation,

Denise Holland
CEO – Harvest Hope Food Bank

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hunger is a secret shame that families often try to keep from others. For a family living in hunger, shame and secrecy is the bond they share. For parents who struggle daily to provide for their families, facing the reality of empty plates at their tables at every meal can be overwhelming and embarrassing. No matter how hard they may strive to provide for their families, they often feel they have failed their loved ones. They keep their hunger to themselves.

One Monday morning, I picked up the phone and a woman was calling who said she needed help. She felt she had no choice but to come for us for food for her family, but she had never asked for help before, she did not know anything about getting food from us, and she had questions. Any one of us here at Harvest Hope could have taken that call, but I was so glad that I picked it up to hear her story.

I am a single mother and I have three children. A week ago I realized I did not have enough to feed all four of us, so I stopped eating and gave all the food I could afford to my children. I was hoping that something would happen, that I would get some kind of break, but a week has gone by and I can’t go on any longer without eating. I do not get paid again until next Friday and I don’t know where to turn. I work but I just don’t make enough to meet all the expenses. Everything –gas, food, my rent and bills – it all costs so much! I can’t keep up with all the expenses.

I heard that Harvest Hope gives food to people and I want to know more about what you do and how that works. I do not want a hand out. I will work for you to get the food I need. I teach my children how important it is to pay our own way in life. I try my best to be a role model to them and not ask for hand outs, and do not spend my money frivolously.

I am at my wits end. I have to feed my children and myself and I need to get food from anyone like you who will help. But I have to be honest: I am so afraid someone will see me there and think I can’t provide for my family. I am afraid someone will take my children and I do not want to lose my children.  Can you help just for one week until I catch up? I will do whatever I can to pay you back when I get the chance.

Her call meant so much to me, but it is not unlike so many calls we get every day. This mother did not want to ask for help, not out of pride but out of fear she would lose her children. I assured her we would help, we would not judge, and she would not lose her beloved children. All that mattered is that we provide for her the food she needed for them all.

It helped when I told her that when she got on her feet she could volunteer or donate food back to us. But what was important was what happened NOW, that we help her through her immediate hunger crisis. When someone cannot provide food for themselves or their family it is a dire crisis RIGHT NOW. Hunger does not wait.

We work with individuals and families when they come to us to help them receive food through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), which you may know as food stamps.  SNAP provides enough food to last most families through 10 to 14 days. We have found that if we can provide 90 to 100 pounds of food to people when they come to us, that will get them through the shortfall for the rest of the month. We have also found that for those who come to us for food, if we can provide that 90 to 100 pounds they only visit us three times. After that, they have lifted themselves out of their
immediate crisis and get back on their feet. But our ability to provide that quantity is entirely dependent on donation levels, and often we have no choice but to give less. We can only give what we’ve got – it’s pretty simple math, really.

Harvest Hope has different programs to provide food to those in need across 20 counties of South Carolina. We have programs like the Kids Cafe and BackPack programs to feed children, two Emergency Food Pantries for those in the Midlands who can come to us, senior boxes and Totes of Love to feed seniors and Mobile Food Pantries to directly deliver food to those who live in remote or rural areas isolated from many services. We work with over 475 agency partners who provide food to pockets of poverty and need throughout 20 counties.

Helping us provide these services, or to make sure we have 90 to 100 pounds of food for those who come to us, can be simple and easy. Just $30 will help us give enough food to one family, a family like the desperate mother and her three children, to get them through the month.

March and early April are very crucial and urgent times to donate to Harvest Hope thanks to a wonderful matching opportunity through the Alan Shawn Feinstein Foundation. The Feinstein Foundation has set aside $1 million to provide to hunger relief charities across the country, and will MATCH cash and food donations made to Harvest Hope before April 30. Total funds available from the Feinstein Foundation match can be $35,000! By donating now to help us feed hungry children, the generosity of the Feinstein Foundation will help your gift go even further towards their needs.

Over the last 15 years the Feinstein Foundation has raised more than $1.25 billion for over 2,000 agencies and houses of worship nationwide through this generous annual matching campaign.

If each of us, each family, will do this to help another family then think of the difference it will make to so many who need just a little help right now.

On behalf of our family at Harvest Hope to your family, will you help others today?

Our most gracious love and appreciation to you,

Denise Holland