Along with raising money, a chance to get the message across
Helping Hands of Georgetown was one of two nonprofits that surpassed $200,000 in donations during last year’s Palmetto Giving Day.
Executive director Brendon Barber has high hopes for this year’s event, which is May 2-3.
“It’s not just about the fundraising, it’s about letting people know who we are and what we do,” Barber said. “Everything we get we put back into our people. That’s important when you start talking about nonprofits. We’re very conscious of what we spend and how we spend it.”
Helping Hands started as a food pantry in 1989. It also gives assistance to residents for utilities, gas and propane.
It added a dental clinic in 2003.
“The whole message is to break that cycle of poverty here in Georgetown,” Barber said. “With prices going up, there’s an even larger need.”
The nonprofit is one of 14 food pantries in Georgetown County.
“You still have food deserts around Georgetown County due lack of transportation,” Barber said. “Folks just can’t get to where you are located. The food pantries and nonprofits that have stepped up, we have to commend them for taking on that.”
In 2013, Helping Hands teamed up with Tidelands Health, St. James Health and Wellness and Delta Dental to open a dental clinic at its headquarters in Georgetown.
Barber said a lot of people who visit hospital emergency rooms are there because of problems with their teeth. All the doctors can do is give them something for the pain.
“Dental care, particularly in Georgetown County, is critical,” Barber added.
The dental clinic operates on Thursdays and Fridays, providing complete care, from cleanings to extractions. Dentists and hygienists volunteer their time.
Last year, 544 patients were treated.
There are currently 120 people on a waiting list, and Barber is looking for ways to add more clinic hours including an idea to team up with the dental school at MUSC to see if some of the students could do their required practical work at the clinic under the supervision of their professors.
“They have to have patients and this is the ideal setup,” Barber said.
For several years, Helping Hands has been working with high school students through its Youth Empowerment Program.
Eighty-four students from all four county high schools are enrolled this year, and the mentoring takes place during the school day.
The goal is to get kids ready for college, work or the military, Barber said.
There are also field trips for zip-lining, canoeing or to escape room facilities.
“Everything is based on working as a team and depending on one another,” Barber said.
Helping Hands relies on YouScience Brightpath technology, which uses video games, to help figure out each teen’s aptitudes.
“If we don’t invest in our young people our hands will be tied in the global, economic market,” Barber said. “Our young people are our future and that’s who we’re investing in.”
Palmetto Giving Day starts at 6 a.m. on May 2 and ends at 6 p.m. on May 3
For more information on the nonprofits involved go to palmettogivingday.org. The website will be the only place to make donations on May 2 and 3.
The site will also keep a running total of the number of donations and the amount of money raised throughout the 36 hours.