Some Chesterfield County families will be a little more thankful today thanks to the Lois G. McArn Food Bank.
The charity held its annual Thanksgiving food giveaway on Nov. 19. Despite overcast skies, many lined up waiting for the door of the box truck to slide up and distribution to begin.
This year, 349 boxes — including 300 boxes ordered from Harvest Hope in Florence — were given away. The staff and volunteers put together the extra 49 to make sure no one left empty-handed. Each person in line was given an index card with a number on it.
When recipients’ number was called, they were able to get the number of boxes they needed.
“We made up the difference with food that we had,” said food bank director Sharon Hendrix. “We made sure everyone that came got something.”
Items in the food boxes included canned ham, yams, corn, stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans and cranberry sauce. The boxes came pre-packaged and sealed, ready for distribution and loaded to feed a family of four.
Hendrix said the food giveaway has been going on for a while, at least eight years, which is how long she has been there. There were no qualifications to receive one of the boxes. But an application must be filled out at any other time of the year. The food bank’s doors first opened Oct. 13, 2002.
“Two hundred families — not people, families — that is pretty good,” Hendrix said Friday afternoon. “We had 26 people to come in today.”
Hendrix said employees and volunteers work hard all year to make sure they are able to serve the community. The food bank relies on donations so it can continue to hold Thanksgiving and Christmas distributions as well as serve families throughout the rest of the year.
The McArn Food Bank is able to accept all food — perishable and nonperishable items. The group has five freezers and two refrigerators to store the food safely. Workers were busy on Friday taking in a very large donation from McLeod Health Cheraw. Hospital staff and administrators donated 3,682 items and delivered them to the food bank.
Hendrix said that donation will help the group come Christmas. A date for the pre-Christmas food distribution has not yet been set.
Young, single parents with children and little to no income, unemployed young adults with education but who not able to find work, those who have lost jobs due to the poor economy and those who are sick but do not receive any type of assistance are just some of those who benefit.
The food bank is also involved in the Backpack Pals program. Staff and volunteers provide 25 backpacks a week to students at Cheraw Primary School. The students were selected by the school with concerns of weekend food availability. But the McArn Food Bank also offers other assistance to the community.
Staffers are currently assisting those who have received final notices and disconnect notices from utility providers. This service is provided on a monthly basis as the food bank’s budget allows. CareSouth Carolina goes to the facility throughout the year to provide free blood pressure checks. Workers also have nutritional information, recipes, coupons and literature in the packages given to their clients.
South Carolina remains second in the nation for hunger and one in four children will go hungry in the state each day. Families served are not charged, but the boxes are paid for by the agency, they are not free or donated.
The Lois G. McArn Food Bank serves about 200 families a month.
Reach Maria D. Grandy at 843-537-5261.