Help 4 Kids summer food drive under way for Back Pack Buddies

Help 4 Kids, the all-volunteer nonprofit that has helped area children for more than 25 years, is running its annual Summer Vienna Sausage Campaign, collecting a variety of food for the coming school year.

“We have 8,000 cans already,” says Barbara Mains, who, with her sister and a friend, started Help 4 Kids in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in September 1989.

The summer food drive that began on June 1 may be somewhat ahead of the previous drives.

“I think we’ll have a good amount of food when school starts back,” Mains said.

One of the reasons for Mains’ optimism is the participation of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

This summer’s drive was launched at the ballpark and the stadium on 21st Avenue North is a major drop-off point for food. That’s in addition to the continuing Pelicans program of discounted tickets on Monday night games for fans who bring cans of Vienna sausages or other Back Pack Buddies food items, such as chicken noodle soup, pop-top cans of ravioli or peanut butter crackers.

Throughout the 2014-15 school years, Back Pack Buddies bags of food were delivered to 30 schools, for 3,400 children. Volunteers package the bags, which are delivered by St. Michael Catholic Church Knights of Columbus Council 8980 members.

“They do a good job,” Mains says.

Diane DeVaughn Stokes and Charles Stokes have again contributed a public service commercial for the Summer Vienna Sausage Campaign. Help 4 Kids volunteer Lucille Serock says “we’re getting a good response” from the 30-second spot running on perhaps a dozen radio and television outlets. Serock has received comments about the commercial from several people. “It’s a very effective service announcement.”

The first summer campaign started after Mains told DeVaughn Stokes in a televised interview that Help 4 Kids was losing the financial help it had received for purchasing little cans of Vienna sausage, a very popular item for youngsters.

“On the air, I said we’ll start a campaign,” DeVaughn Stokes recalls.

She and her husband have also produced a longer video for the Help 4 Kids website.

“Every time we go out with Barb, it is gut-wrenching to see the poverty that exists in our community,” DeVaughn Stokes said.

Many people have been shocked to learn that two-thirds of Horry County Schools youngsters are from families living below the poverty line. These children are eligible for school breakfasts and lunches and receive the Back Pack Buddies weekend food, which is placed in their backpacks.

In the summer months, Mains and other volunteers deliver food to neighborhoods and homes. Last week, the number of children totaled 882, with 100 more added this week.

Mains picks up sandwiches at the First United Methodist Church in Conway and delivers them to homes of children identified by HCS nurses and counselors. Volunteers are needed to pick up food at the Murrells Inlet headquarters of Help 4 Kids and taken to homes in the Green Sea Floyd area. The summer needs include hot dogs and buns, bologna/cheese sandwiches, individual size chips and snacks, breakfast bars, outdoor games, books, and hygiene items, particularly soap and deodorant.

For the Summer Vienna Sausage Campaign, in addition to the Pelicans ballpark, drop-off points for food include all branches of Carolina Trust Federal Credit Union, A Plus Auto on S.C. 9, and Jersey Mike’s Subs in Murrells Inlet.

In March, seven area Jersey Mike’s Subs stores raised $13,000 for Help 4 Kids during a national Month of Giving campaign, according to Kevin Satterfield, owner of the Murrells Inlet location.

An underlining theme of the campaign’s public service announcement is to educate people about the extent of poverty “right here at home,” DeVaughn Stokes says.

Contributing food or helping collect it is a good way to help feed thousands of Horry County children.

How to help

For more information about having a collection box for the annual Summer Vienna Sausage Campaign for Back Pack Buddies food, or to volunteer to deliver summer meals to children or contribute sandwiches and other items for “Summer Needs,” contact:

Help 4 Kids

12053B Hwy 17 Bypass South

Garden City Beach, SC 29576

▪ Phone | 843-651-4310

▪ email | info@help4kidssc.org

▪ Online | www.help4kidssc.org