Two major food pantries, in Conway and Myrtle Beach, are in a typical summer slump for canned vegetables and other staples such as grits and rice. At CAP (Churches Assisting People), client counselor Norma Smith reported she purchased $169 in canned food Monday and “it was gone by the end of the day.’’ On Monday, CAP provided three days of emergency food to 80 people and their families.
At Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach, counselor Lisa Buie says the pantry on Mr. Joe White Avenue, needs canned corn, peas and spinach, pork and beans and any type of canned meat such as tuna or stews. As is usually the case, the pantry has plenty of green beans. Also needed are staples including grits, oatmeal and rice. Pop-top cans and can openers are sought.
CAP and Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach also need monetary donations that are used to assist people with rent and utility payments and transportation in the form of gasoline and bus tickets. “We can always use monetary donations,’’ Buie says. That need was echoed by Smith who says “funds are low to help with utilities.’’
CAP and Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach are two of the four United Way of Horry County community partners that provide safety net or emergency help to folks in need. The other two United Way units are North Strand Helping Hand in Longs and South Strand Helping Hand in Surfside Beach. In addition, there are other non-United Way safety nets including St. Delight Community Outreach in Little River and the South Strand Assembly of God Food Bank in Murrells Inlet.
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Churches of every denomination are the primary supporters of crisis services. CAP president Gray Strogen noted that organization started in 1986 after individual churches experienced difficulty in providing emergency assistance. Today, more than 30 congregations in the Conway area support CAP. The 12 members of the board are all from supporting churches. Strogen and board member Toby White note that volunteers also are from the supporting churches.
The number of people served illustrate their importance to the community. Through June 30, CAP provided food to 4,983 persons or 12,461 family members. In meals, that’s 112,149. This year’s numbers at Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach are about the same as last year, Buie says, with more than 14,000 served through last week. The website reports 258,894 meals were provided in 2012.
Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach has heavy summer demands for all types of personal hygiene items, especially toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant. “We’re doing better on hygiene’’ products, Buie says, because of the generosity of an anonymous donor who purchases kits and has them shipped to Helping Hand. “And we’re happy to receive them.’’
Buie first volunteered at Helping Hand as a member of First Presbyterian Church, one of the founding congregations. Her grown daughters and children of other staffers and volunteers learned about helping neighbors. “All of our children have been raised in Helping Hand.’’