Doubling Down on Giving

It happened again, a person knocks on our office door looking for the Second Helpings Thrift Store.  The local Yellow Pages lists us as a thrift store, and people come by looking for it.  Many vacationers make the “Thrift Store Tour” part of their annual vacation here on the island.

I can see how people would think that Second Helpings is a thrift store because of our name and our similar missions.  We both strive to repurpose, recycle and reduce waste.  We’re both about giving things a second chance whether it’s food, clothing or furniture and offering it to people of limited means or access.  And we both depend on volunteers.

Thrift stores double their impact because the proceeds from their sales are donated to other nonprofits in the area, helping people with food, shelter, literacy and financial assistance.    Second Helpings gets support from four thrift stores; The Bargain Box, The Church Mouse, St. Francis Thrift and Calhoun Station.  I believe I speak for all the nonprofits in saying that their generosity is critical to fulfilling our missions and we could not serve as many people as we do without their help.

However, a word of caution. Whether you are donating goods, services or money, please do some homework and research the organization you will support. Not all programs, organizations and thrift stores are what they seem. Some benefit the people running them more than the community at large.   With that caveat, next time you are cleaning out your closet, attic or garage, don’t just through away your excess stuff.  Think about donating it to a local thrift store.  Many people in your community, directly or indirectly will benefit from your generosity.

Top Ten States with the Highest Grocery Bills

This is one “Top Ten” list that South Carolina doesn’t want to be on, but we are.  In fact, we’re in second place.  We share this dubious honor with states like Hawaii and Alaska that have high delivery costs, but we don’t have that excuse. selected ingredients for a simple dinner for a family of four: chicken breasts, potatoes, apples and milk. The average nationwide cost for this meal is about $15 but in SC the cost is $24.11.  The primary issues in South Carolina are availability and access, compounded by poverty.

Grocery companies build stores in large metropolitan areas, leaving many small towns and rural areas (much of South Carolina) without close-by stores to purchase healthy food.  It is common for people in these “Food Deserts” to have to travel 10, 20 or more miles to find a full-service market with a wide selection of fresh produce.  Lack of public transportation compounds the problem.  Finally, Jasper and Hampton Counties have wide levels of deep poverty for a host of reasons not readily overcome.

The problems of hunger and poverty are complex and there are no easy solutions. For many people in our service area, Second Helpings is essential to their getting enough food.  We are always looking for ways to improve our service.  Any suggestions, ideas, or help you can offer would be appreciated.

Click on the link to read the full article about the Top Ten List.

As the saying goes “It takes a village” but in our case a farm

Our “Village” is Dempsey Farms out on St. Helena Island.  As part of our mission and our Expanded Food Source Initiative, Second Helpings is always seeking out new food sources. High on our list are ones that provide fresh produce.  We are proud to have them as our newest food donation partner.

Dempsey Farms has been a family run business for almost 60 years, started shortly after J.W. Dempsey moved his young family to Beaufort. Dempsey-Farms-TruckThey primarily sold their produce to businesses until the poor economic conditions in the early 70’s forced them to rethink their business model and convert to a U- Pick It Farm. They currently have around 170 acres of land just off of Sea Island Parkway where they grow all kinds of beautiful vegetables and fruits (green beans, strawberries, squash, corn, melon tomatoes and peppers).  Ted, a retired educator runs the farm stand and he has a variety of fresh picked vegetables ready to purchase for those who’d prefer not to venture into the fields.  I was fortunate enough to pick up some big juicy strawberries, beans and squash. Half the green beans never made it back home, but instead were eaten on the way back to the Second Helpings office.  Munching on those beans brought me back to my childhood when my mother would pile all eight kids in the big station wagon and take us to the local farm in New Jersey to purchase our vegetables and enjoy the fresh air.  Yes, NJ has farms; it is known as the Garden State!

Dempsey-Farms-VeggiesWe can’t thank them enough for partnering with us in our quest to end hunger in the Lowcountry. As you can see, their vegetable donations are beautiful even though they are considered either too big, too small, not pretty enough to sell or just excess inventory.  However, to us and all the people we feed, they are just perfect!  Visit their website or like them on Facebook to learn more about their wonderful farm and delicious vegetables (