Letters to the Editor

Pantries' Supplies Dwindle

Part one of two:

Area food pantries, flush with dry and canned goods only a few months ago from the hugely successful "Extreme Makeover" food drive, now are desperately low on supplies for hungry families.

"I wish someone would do Christmas in July," says Adrian Weatherwax, veteran executive director of Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach, thinking of the holiday food drives that put canned and boxed food on the shelves. This year, area pantries received an additional boost with 100 tons of food from the Extreme Makeover drive, in conjunction with the popular television program.

Moreover, food pantry directors point out that they are seeing more and more people. "We are filling out new applications every week," says the Rev. Charles Randall of St. Delight Church in Little River. The church's community outreach program distributes food three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. "People are there waiting before 10," Randall says. A year ago, church volunteers stretched food from the previous holiday period to last through the summer. This year, even with the bonus food from Extreme Makeover, St. Delight is down to a dozen boxes. Randall says he is "thinking about cutting back" the food distribution hours, only because of the supply.

"Ours has been gone" Weatherwax says of the Myrtle Beach pantry's Extreme Makeover food. Lisa Buie, a counselor at Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach, reports "the pantry is very low ... out of mac and cheese, peanut butter, cereal and deodorant." The latter is an important item for the hygiene kits the Myrtle Beach operation distributes. Deodorant is one of the prime needs, Weatherwax says, along with Kool-Aid and sugar.

"We are desperately low on staples such as peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, noodles, meat," says Margaret Owens, executive director of North Strand Helping Hand, which serves North Myrtle Beach, Little River, Longs and some of the Loris area. Churches Assisting People in Conway shares coverage of Loris. Using a Food Lion grant, Owens purchased food on Tuesday and it was gone Thursday. Only 14 containers of peanut butter remained on the shelf Friday morning from 48 purchased earlier in the week.

Owens and Weatherwax note that summers are always trying with children out of school and school breakfast and lunch not available. People who perhaps regularly donate are away and folks in general are not thinking about donations to food drives. Thus Weatherwax has her "Christmas in July" wish. Service clubs and other charitable groups looking for a summer project might consider holding food drives. Here's an idea for Boy Scout or Girl Scout troops or parents looking for something constructive for the kids to do. Check with one of the food pantries to determine what's needed most, put out fliers in the neighborhood announcing the kids' project and setting a time to collect.s

If you're on a trip, collect those little soaps and shampoos from the motel, maybe add some deodorant and you'll have the makings of hygiene kits for Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach. You may have a stash of hotel soap, etc. and now would be a good time to give it to Helping Hand.

Coming Wednesday: Vignettes of volunteers who help fulfill a growing need.