HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The local non-profit organization Help 4 Kids is in need of volunteers and donations for their Backpack Buddies program.
The program is completely volunteer-based and relies solely on donations.
Help 4 Kids was founded in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo. While volunteering, the three founders realized many children in Horry County did not have food or other basic necessities. They created Backpack Buddies to make sure students could take home food on Friday afternoons to be able to show up Monday fed and ready to learn.
The organization is currently serving children from 36 Horry County schools and filling around 2,500 bags of food each week. It also donates clothing and school supplies.
While schools are closed for the summer, the non-profit is still helping families by delivering to their doorsteps or other locations the families can access.
Bob Ballerano, a volunteer for seven years, said some families need even more help now that schools are closed.
“Since school’s out the kids, some of the families are in need of more help because now they’re not getting breakfast or lunch,” Ballerano said. “So now we actually try to send out bags of food to the peoples’ houses, to the people who are less fortunate.”
Ballerano said the pandemic has taken a toll on supply chains so getting large quantities of food from some grocery stores has not been possible since 2019.
“We really haven’t been able to do the food drive so were really counting on donations from individual people,” he said.
“There’s many different ways that people can make a donation for us,” he said.
He also said people can buy items in bulk and drop them off at their office.
Help 4 Kids is also impacted by the rising price of gas.
Ballerano said sometimes they will double the food in bags to avoid having to make weekly trips so the organization can save money fueling its vehicles.
“I believe we have 5 vehicles and it takes a lot of gas to drive around,” he said. “Horry county is a big county.”
No matter whether a person comes to drive a vehicle, pack a bag or drop off items, Help 4 Kids appreciates it all.
“No donation is too small. You know if you can just bring in a can of pasta or one soup, every little bit helps,” he said. “Some people can only donate a little bit and other people can donate a lot, but no donation is too small.”