December 2011

December 2011: Charity Corner - Second Helpings: Deliering Food and Hope through the Holidays and Beyond

Author: Peter Zink

Delivering Food and Hope Through The Holidays and Beyond

You can’t stand in one spot all day to learn what Second Helpings is all about. If you did, you’d see something like this: dozens of early morning volunteers boarding three trucks just as dawn breaks. Six days a week, the Second Helpings trucks fire up their diesel engines and rumble out on daily routes. They come back the way they leave: empty, betraying nothing but a refrigerated container in the back. To the casual eye, it’s like nothing happened.

But what happens between the time the trucks leave and the time they return is anything but ordinary. Each week, Second Helpings trucks visit 56 donors and deliver donated food from their refrigerated trucks to over 78 nonprofit agencies and churches, absolutely free of charge. The results of these weekly efforts are staggering: last year alone there were over 2.2 million pounds of food delivered to children and needy adults, which is over 1.1 million meals in Beaufort County alone. While it might be surprising to hear such a high number of needed meals for just the Bluffton and Hilton Head areas alone, Executive Director Peggy Warnke said needy children and families are not as uncommon as one might think. “The need is definitely there. Everyone thinks Hilton Head is only a place of prosperity, but 54 percent of children in Beaufort county schools are on free and reduced lunch programs. They live below the poverty line,” Warnke added.

Heading into its twentieth year, Second Helpings originally started as a grassroots movement from the Greenwood Forest neighborhood in Sea Pines. Volunteers literally used their own station wagons to pick up and deliver food each day. Even with this initial fledgling effort, they delivered over 46,000 pounds of food in the first year.

Relationships with local donors have since fueled the growth of Second Helpings. As the chairman of the donations committee and a volunteer with over 12 years’ experience, Bruce Drake saw the growth with his own eyes. Last year, Second Helpings partnered with a Feeding America food bank out of Charleston to assist with brokering contracts with large supermarket chains, which allowed Second Helpings to deliver 30 percent more food alone last year. “We just might find ourselves needing another truck,” Drake said with a chuckle.

But it’s not just the donors that impressed Drake every day. “I’m continually amazed by the response we get from the recipients of our food,” Drake said.

“No one will take more than they need. They know the need is so great, they don’t take more than their people can use,” Warnke pointed out.

While it’s clear that both recipients and donors do the best they can to handle demand, the costs of diesel fuel and other demands make it challenging for Second Helpings to keep it up. As they do every year, they will host a Christmas day dinner at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront for recipients, and they always need help with their deliveries.

HOW TO VOLUNTEER:
Volunteer by Calling: (843) 689-3689 or e-mailing secondhelpings@hiltonhead.com. Send donations to Second Helpings at PO Box 23621, Hilton Head SC 29925.

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