Teen Angels raising money for annual shopping trip

Teen Angels, a nonprofit that has assisted North Myrtle Beach High School students in a variety of material ways, also teaches an important life lesson about helping others.

Renee Hembree, the founder and chair of the unique charity, knew the teaching goal was being achieved when a student sought out Hembree and asked, “How can I help you?” Andrew Smith’s role has included helping distribute fliers for the current fundraising drive to finance the annual Christmas shopping excursion on Dec. 17. The goal is $10,000, which will provide a record 37 students with $250 gift cards for shopping at Coastal Grand Mall. They also receive $10 for lunch, and the goal covers other needs that are bound to occur, such as emergency shelter and food.

Another student, Brandon Lynch, who attends the Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology, collected gift cards, hairdryers and toiletries in response to a house fire in the North Myrtle Beach area. Smith and Lynch are two examples of the huge support of Teen Angels by North Myrtle Beach High School students. The National Honor Society chapter sold popcorn and raised $1,500; members of the National English Honor Society raised $1,000.

“We’ve been very successful in teaching students about the importance of taking care of one another,” Hembree says. “We’re meeting material needs, but also teaching a bigger lesson, teaching our teenagers to take care of one another.” Renee and Greg Hembree, the state senator, have two daughters and a son. When her children were students at North Myrtle Beach High School, Renee Hembree became aware of the fact that homelessness includes high school students. It was out of a concern for homeless teens being overlooked, especially at Christmastime, that she started Teen Angel in 2007. The name became plural when the S.C. Secretary of State had another charity of the same name.

School Principal Trevor Strawderman is a solid and consistent supporter of Teen Angels. He, Hembree and teacher Janet Quigley are the official 501c3 board members and an advisory panel includes teacher Rachel Vaughn and all four guidance counselors and the data control person, Christiana Ingram. From the first Christmas shopping, the nonprofit has expanded to a “prom closet” at the school, purchase of graduation clothes and yearbooks, rental and utility assistance. The misson is “to provide a happy and traditional high school experience.”

A new video on the Teen Angels Facebook page and YouTube is helping raise money. The video is dedicated to the late Phyllis Fessman of the Barefoot Community, who collected 4,000 gift cards. Her family requested memorials to Teen Angels and the funds were used to make the video, which may be found online at YouTube.com

Teen Angels has regular financial support of churches, individuals, shag clubs and civic groups such as the Rotary Club of Little River and the North Strand Optimist Club. In addition to the 25 students officially identified as homeless at North Myrtle Beach High School, otherwise struggling students are assisted. The annual budget has grown to $20,000. Hembree is rightly proud of the fact that “95 percent [of all money contributed] goes to the kids.”

“If we have the money and a need comes before us, we just take care of it,” Hembree says.

[Hed] Teen Angels

Fund Drive

The nonprofit is accepting cash and check donations to purchase gift cards for homeless, displaced and independent teenagers at North Myrtle Beach High School. Make checks payable to Teen Angels.

Send to: North Myrtle Beach High School

3750 Sea Mountain Highway

Little River, SC 29566

For more information contact:

NMBHS Principal Trevor Strawderman

Phone | 843-399-6171

Email | tstrawderman@horrycountyschools.net

Board chair Renee Hembree

Phone | 843-249-2513

Email | rhembree1@sc.rr.com