Editorial | Myrtle Beach-area charities seek to fill pantry shelves, gather items for hygiene kits

Summertime at area safety net nonprofits such as CAP in Conway and Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach typically means low supplies of some foods at the same time more children are served because they aren’t receiving meals at school.

On Tuesday, CAP was out of rice, grits and oatmeal and nearly out of canned corn and peas, all mainstay food items. On the positive side, “We always have something,” CAP board member Gray Strogen says, for folks needing emergency food. Families receiving food in May totaled 857 representing 2,082 family members.

At Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach, executive director Tina Shuppy says “overall, we’re doing OK” on food supplies, although the pantry needs staples such as mac and cheese, pasta and cereal. The big need is for deodorant, for the 50 or more hygiene kits distributed at the nonprofit on Mr. Joe White Avenue.

Shuppy says Helping Hand just “put out notices for the churches” about the need for deodorant. “We can always use deodorant,” but when the supporting churches are notified of a particular need, it’s bound to be critical.

CAP and three Helping Hand organizations (North Strand and South Strand as well as Myrtle Beach) are major safety net nonprofits. They provide food as well as help with rent and utility payments and gasoline vouchers. All four nonprofits are community partners of the United Way of Horry County and their major supporters are churches of many denominations.

HHMB recently added Sandy Grove Baptist Church to its main support group. CAP has 12 churches represented on its board of directors, but Strogen notes that a total of 21 churches helped CAP the first half of the year. Area Food Lion and Bi-Lo stores contribute daily to many food pantries. Most pantries not part of United Way are operated by churches, such as the St. Delight congregation in Little River and the South Strand Assembly of God in Murrells Inlet. Additionally, many area churches serve meals regularly to who knows how many hundreds of persons.

Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach has one of the oldest area golf fundraisers. The 27th Annual Golf Tournament is July 26 at River Oaks Golf Plantation. The outing typically raises $10,000 to $12,000, Shuppy says.

In addition to deodorant, the HHMB hygiene kits include toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo-conditioner, sometimes combs and lotion. “We love the small bottles,” Shuppy says, referring to travel size containers or those available in motels and hotels. “We probably give out 50 or more hygiene kits any given week,” especially in the summer months when requests go up.

On the number of people served, “we’re about even with last year,” Shuppy says. “Our clients typically are low-wage earners in part-time jobs.” In the summer, they might have 40 hours of work, just enough to lose their USDA benefits still popularly known as food stamps. These are “people barely making it” financially and “any small thing such as illness or vehicle repair will knock them down.”

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of kind-hearted volunteers, many through their churches, work daily to help neighbors back on their feet. All the safety net organizations and volunteers deserve our ongoing support through donations of money, time, food – and deodorant for those personal hygiene kits.