Gwen Woody, the founder of Coastal Rescue Mission in Myrtle Beach, says “my biggest fear” is that all 1,500 of the mission’s client families might show up to receive food on the monthly distribution day.
On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers at the mission on George Bishop Parkway distributed boxes of food to 150 families. Each box included a whole turkey or chicken. Woody says on average, seven to 10 new families every month are among those receiving food. The mission’s clients include many elderly persons. Woody has the same lament of other nonprofit operators struggling to help increasing numbers of people in need at the same time contributions have fallen. “Things have been very tight. It’s been tough.”
Coastal Rescue Mission started in 1996 and operated a shelter, which closed three years ago after a fire. “I definitely hope to get the shelter open again,” she says, but there is no timetable for that. The pressing need is for enough food to serve however many of those 1,500 clients show up on Dec. 22. The number could be 150 or “300 may show up.” Woody is thankful for the regular donors.
For a time, the mission was in Loris, where as many as 400 boxes of food were distributed. In Loris, “I had 125 volunteers. Back in Myrtle Beach, I’ve got a handful. Volunteers come and go,” just as clients change. “We’re still here – we’re still trying.”