Many area churches and civic groups advance today into the third month of collecting little cans of Vienna sausages for the Backpack Buddies program of Help 4 Kids. The goal is 75,000 cans and Help 4 Kids has 12,000 cans in its storage facility.
However, Cindy Taylor, director of marketing/public relations for the nonprofit, feels the total is greater than 12,000 because “a lot of people are collecting and won’t deliver their cans” until the “Vienna Sausage Campaign” concludes in mid-September during the annual Home Improvement & Outdoor Living Show of the Horry-Georgetown Homebuilders Association. Beyond collecting the cans of sausages – 75,000 is the number required for Backpack Buddies weekend meals for children in 24 Horry County schools – the annual Home Improvement & Outdoor Living Show affords a major fundraising opportunity.
The homebuilders association has donated 10 booths to Help 4 Kids to sell for $1,000 each. “We really need help with that,” Taylor says. The home show also will have a kids talent contest that will provide revenue from $50 entry fees. Help 4 Kids founder and director Barb Mains says four companies and a civic group (the Rotary Club of Little River) have committed to sponsor booths, leaving five available.
The small cans of Vienna sausages are a kids’ favorite in the weekend food packages. They were missing the last three weeks of the school year because of a loss of funding. Backpack Buddies delivered 2,300 meals a week, on Fridays. Volunteers pack the meals weekly. The shocking fact is that without the food packages, the children receiving them might not have much to eat over the weekend. That is the stunning reality in a county where more than 60 percent of youngsters in Horry County Schools are from families below the poverty line.
Mains started Help 4 Kids in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. “This is her baby – it’s been her life for 23 years,” Taylor told members of the Rotary Club of Little River, a financial supporter of Help 4 Kids/Backpack Buddies. More such sponsors are needed. Taylor shared a point Mains made after Taylor became a Help 4 Kids volunteer: “When you see these kids you will realize how little you need.”
More than 30 area churches, including some vacation Bible school programs, are collecting cans of sausage. Three golf courses (Indigo Creek, River Oaks Golf Plantation, Azalea Sands) are offering after 2 p.m. bargain green fees with the donation of five cans of sausages. Erna Blome of Little River estimates there are perhaps 1,000 cans at the A-Plus Auto collection point on S.C. 9. Blome is organizing a public fundraising party on Aug. 12 at the Coquina clubhouse in Little River.
Taylor is involved “to make a difference in the lives of kids” – and to set an example of helping others for her young children. Talking about the need for the meals of Backpack Buddies, she says, “It’s right here – you know someone who knows someone in this program.”