120717 Traditions: Donations help stock food pantry
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Erin and John Hines, food pantry volunteers, help unload food collected by Legion members.

Traditions: Donations help stock food pantry

By Emily Topper
Coastal Observer

Wheeling full wagons and grocery carts, members of American Legion Post 197 in Pawleys Island presented the Baskervill Food Pantry with 600 pounds of food for the holiday season.

The donation was the result of a month-long food drive by the Legion, which said that efforts to support the pantry will continue through the holidays.

In November, Legion members dropped off nine donation boxes at area businesses to collect canned goods and other non-perishable items. All nine businesses agreed to keep the boxes out for the remainder of the holiday season. “We’ll do another donation before Christmas,” Post Commander Glenn Hero said.

The first batch of donations will last a couple of weeks, said Linda Ducharme, the food pantry coordinator.

“We serve about 640 individuals per month,” Ducharme, who has been the pantry coordinator for the last three years, said. “We serve Georgetown County, but if someone shows up at our door from Horry County or somewhere else, we don’t refuse anyone. Everyone is welcome.”

Many of the food pantry’s clients come from the neighboring Smith Medical Clinic. Both services are located on the campus of Holy Cross-Faith Memorial Epsicopal Church. With varying client needs, food pantry volunteers are always searching for healthier options.

“We have made a concerted effort to convert to having low-salt, low-sugar,” Ducharme said. “We try to be sensitive to issues including diabetes and high blood pressure. We’re dependent on cereals like Cheerios that don’t have a high sugar count.”

Protein-packed items are the pantry’s biggest need. While chicken, tuna and canned meats are welcome donations, Ducharme asks donors to reconsider products like Spam and Beef-A-Roni that have a higher salt content.

“We want heart-healthy food,” she said. “For example, we want soup, but we want them to be low salt or low sodium.”

In September, the food pantry introduced a client choice program. Instead of distributing pre-packaged items to clients, those who visit the food pantry can select their own options.

“Client choice basically is allowing them to choose what works for them and their family,” Erin Hines, a pantry volunteer, said. “It’s more like shopping. We show them which ones are healthier. We’re not telling them what they should take, we just show them. We are letting them choose what proteins they want, and then we do the same thing for grains, fruits and cereals.”

Ducharme said efforts by organizations like the American Legion are necessary to keep the food pantry serving.

“We are an outreach ministry of Holy Cross,” she said. “We work in collaboration with other churches. It’s a community effort. We depend on civic organizations to support us. They provide volunteers, food donations, financial assistance.”

In addition to the 600 pounds of food collected for the pantry, the American Legion was also able to present the pantry with $100 to help stock the shelves. Lowes Foods, Bi-Lo and Food Lion donated gift cards to the effort.

“We gave that to them so they could buy some of their own food,” Hero said. “This is the second time we’ve done an annual donation, but we’re a really small post. Our original plan was to do the drive up until Thanksgiving, but the businesses agreed to leave the boxes out.”

Those who want to participate in the holiday food drive can drop off donations at CVS Pharmacy, Good Times Consignment, Pawleys Island Bakery, Maria’s Clip Joint Barbershop, Happy Feet Salon, Palmetto Ace Home Center, Take 2 Resale Consignment, Applewood Pancakes and Rock, Paper, Scissors Salon.

Individuals can also make donations to the food pantry from 9 a.m. to noon, Mondays through Thursdays, or from 4:30 pto 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

Those interested in supporting the Legion’s food drive can contact Hero at pahero@msn.com.

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