There were young mothers and mothers-to-be. Kids young enough not to know their age for sure, and seniors not admiting theirs. Men, women, in-towners, out-of-towners – they all came.
Nobody left empty-handed.
“It’s a great help for the community, for the people of Fort Mill,” said Joseph Baggett, who received food from a Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina distribution Friday morning at Unity Presbyterian Church.
Second Harvest planned 23 hunger relief events running May 14 to Dec. 9. All but one are in York County, the other in Indian Land. Friday was the first of three in Fort Mill.
Marie Smith, fresh off pleading with the town planning commission for more affordable senior housing three days prior, said there is a disconnect in Fort Mill between all the new, high-end development the town wants to attract and people who never would be able to afford it.
“Fort Mill is unbalanced,” she said. “They’re looking out for young people, which is great, but what about the seniors?”
Smith said events like the one Friday are vital for many.
“This is my first time coming here,” she said. “I found out about this at the library. It’s a good thing I found it.”
Clients received two large grocery bags of food and a sack of potatoes, more if their family situation warranted. More than 60 people stood in line before the Second Harvest truck arrived, swelling to 150 once the line began moving. Then, they kept coming.
“We got here at 7:30,” Baggett said, one of the first through just after 9 a.m.
Joy Ayers with the Catawba Area Agency on Aging helped register clients, filling out paperwork on income and needs eligibility. She works with all the distributions, which range from 100 to 350 or more clients. The forms Ayers collects help with follow-up aid like prescription drugs, health insurance, food stamps and counseling.
“The church partners and the community partners, that’s what makes it happen,” she said.
If the event had a mayor, it was Unity member Jim Boyd. Boyd started working food distributions four or five years ago. On Friday he assigned squash duty, checked for lucky numbers he never could find on client tickets and even awarded degrees in “wheelbarrow-ology.”
“This has become a passion for me,” Boyd said.
Numbers were down to about 25 volunteers Friday, from more than 40 at past summer events. The figures had a good bit to do with school schedules.
“We’re missing our kids,” Boyd said, predicting even more folks for a return event in July. “This is an excellent opportunity to show them what giving is all about.”
Kim Vinesett brings as many volunteers with SON Ministries as there are for the food distribution each time, setting out free items collected through community donation. The table on Friday had clothes, household items and toys.
“We partner with programs that help our neighbors in need,” Vinesett said. “Our whole mission is to love on people and help them.”
Aiming for “spiritual and physical relief,” Vinesett’s group offers prayer along with items. The group formerly worked with a homeless camp, but now meets people through distribution events who may not be so accustomed to hard times.
“If it’s their first time going through it,” Vinesett said, “often they just don’t know what to do.”
First-time volunteers had little trouble finding out what to do. Some bagged, while others wheeled groceries to cars in wagons and wheelbarrows. Many sorted squash. Boyd had a job for everyone, with almost 5 tons of food given to clients.
Clients not unlike the people volunteering to help them Friday, which is why volunteers felt it so important.
“We’re all the same community,” Boyd said.
John Marks • 803-547-2353
Want to go?
Future food distributions, all at 9 a.m., come to the following locations:
▪ July 17, Unity Presbyterian Church, 303 Tom Hall St.
▪ Oct. 14, Jerusalem Baptist Church, 1003 Steele St.
▪ Nov. 18, BelAir UMC, 8095 Shelley Mullis Road, Indian Land