Editorials

August 27, 2013

Georgetown group puts clothes on backs of school children

Mail | P.O. Box 749, Pawleys Island SC 29585

Mail | P.O. Box 749, Pawleys Island SC 29585

Editorial | Georgetown group puts clothes on backs of school children

Many enjoying the good life along the Grand Strand perhaps are unaware of the staggering statistic that a third of Georgetown County children live in poverty and many kids don’t go to school because they have no underwear. Or their only shoes have cut-out toes. Or they must wear the same clothes every day because they don’t have any others.

Just what dollar figure marks the poverty line these days? An annual income of $23,050 for a family of four.

Since its beginning more than five years ago, St. Christopher’s Children has provided “basic clothing just so they can go to school and not be embarrassed,’’ says Beverly Dougherty, a board member of the Georgetown County nonprofit started by Bob Pelletier, now board president emeritus. Dougherty serves as co-chair of the nonprofit’s next fundraiser gala (February, 2014) and she’s among board members working on opening a resale store in Pawleys Island. “We’re still in lease negotiations,” she said, “but we’re moving forward.’’

“I’m collecting donations [for resale] and looking for volunteers.’’ She estimates the store will need 40 to 50 volunteers. Twice a month, they would work 3-to-4-hour shifts, two in sales and two in receiving and sorting. Some retail and especially resale experience would be good -- but certainly not necessary. The store volunteers will undergo training.

She has 15-plus names and is looking for more. Volunteer shoppers also are needed, to purchase clothes as requests come in from school nurses. The resale store will give St. Christopher’s Children “an ongoing revenue stream,’’ Dougherty says. “It will enable us to shop in our own store first,’’ increasing clothing options for children.

In the current newsletter, nurse Susan Knowlin says, “St. Christopher’s Children has helped me fulfill many needs of our students by providing them with coats, hats, shirts, pants, shoes, socks and much more.’’

Since classes began last week, 26 requests have been received and volunteers were filling them on Tuesday. In 2012, they filled 414 requests, mostly for basic clothes. The nonprofit also helps with eye, dental and orthodontic care. The latter is for children with profound problems that may be painful. Dougherty recalls one little girl who was homeschooled because she kept one hand over her mouth. St. Christopher’s has responded to more than 1,700 requests for youngsters in 19 Georgetown County Schools.

Currently, 10 to 15 children are on the waiting list for orthodontic care; the number is down from 24 at one point last year. Board members hope the new retail store will free money for orthodontic treatment. Since its inception, St. Christopher’s has helped a total of 92 children with profound orthodontic problems.

The nonprofit, a community partner of the Georgetown County United Way, has no paid staff. “We use 96 percent of all money for the children,’’ Dougherty points out. The $100,000 budget includes $4,200 for purchase of diapers, which St. Christopher’s distributes through organizations such as Birthright of Georgetown County and the Family Justice Center.

“We do not duplicate [services],’’ following the nonprofit’s credo: “Helping Children in Crisis when no one else is there.’’ Dougherty says “I think we’ve done quite a lot for a small, all-volunteer, low-profile organization’’ but she rightly notes “we have such a tremendous need throughout South Carolina.’’

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