Little cans of Vienna Sausages are a favorite of the children who receive weekend meals in the Back Pack Buddies program, but the high-protein finger food was missing the last three weeks of the school year because Help 4 Kids lost some critical funding.
Barb Mains, who started Help 4 Kids nearly 23 years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, says a lack of money forced Help 4 Kids to no longer include the sausages in the weekend food packages. However, the Vienna Sausage Campaign may return the kids’ favorite when Back Pack Buddies resumes in the fall. It so happened that Diane DeVaughn Stokes was recently taping the cable television show she hosts at Help 4 Kids headquarters. Stokes, hearing volunteers talking about the lack of sausages, told Mains the community surely could raise enough cans of Vienna sausages and thus was a unique summer campaign launched.
The goal is to collect 75,000 cans in June, July and August. That number of cans “pretty much will take care of the school year,” volunteer Cindy Taylor says. The campaign kicked off May 23 at Metglas Inc. in Conway. Metglas gave $1,000 which will purchase approximately 2,000 cans. The First United Methodist Church in Conway collected 2,400 cans. Drop-off points are established at locations of Carolina Trust Federal Credit Union, A-Plus Auto on Highway 9, and Keller Williams Realty in Murrells Inlet, where Maxine Dawes is a volunteer for Help 4 Kids. Beach Church in Myrtle Beach is another drop-off point and Taylor is recruiting other churches throughout the area to collect cans.
In addition, Help 4 Kids will be the designated charity for the annual Home Improvement & Outdoor Living Show of the Horry-Georgetown Homebuilders Association. Taylor says Help 4 Kids has a big fundraising opportunity in selling 10 booths at the September show. Stokes says the home improvement show also will feature a talent show and an opportunity to win a prize for people bringing 10 cans of Vienna sausages.
Stages Video Productions, Myrtle Beach, made public service announcements for area television and radio outlets and Stokes says the spots should begin airing soon. The campaign also is featured on Stokes’ (HTC) cable show, “Inside Out.” She and her husband Chuck own the production company.
During the school year, Help 4 Kids distributed 2,300 meals a week at 24 area schools. Volunteers pack the meals, which are placed in backpacks on Fridays. Without the food, the children receiving the backpacks might not have a decent meal over the weekend. That astounding and terrible prospect is a troubling reality we face in a district where a huge percentage of Horry County Schools children are from families below the poverty line.
This week, Mains started the group’s annual summer program, which predates Back Pack Buddies, at three locations in Horry County. By next week, Mains expects to be providing sandwiches, bananas and so forth to 400 children.