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