MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A local non-profit organization is working towards fighting hunger for homeless and at-risk youth in Horry County.
This month there is a county-wide Combat Hunger food drive. It runs until August 31. You can drop off non-perishable food items to any North Myrtle Beach fire station or the Sea Haven headquarters. Leaders will collect all the food to pack in backpacks and then hand them out to kids in need throughout the school year.
The Combat Hunger project started in 2011. Sea Haven teamed up with eight Horry County middle and high schools to provide backpacks full of food every week. School leaders would identify which students were in need and distribute the backpacks discreetly. Bass Pro Shops donated the backpack. Bi-Lo Charities funded all the food. It took a $15,000 budget to run this program.
In 2015, Sea Haven lost funding for the program. Leaders are working to get it back. So in the meantime, organizers are reaching out to the community to help donate food so they can continue the program. Instead of bringing backpacks of food to the schools, school leaders and parents and reach out to the Sea Haven organization directly.
Lt. Jay Ortiz with North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue says the community is showing great support so far of the project. The bin at station 1 was almost already full.
"You don't have to promote this too much for people to want to get involved," said Lt. Ortiz. "That's the good thing about it. People are very willing and have been, as you can see. Our buckets are filling up."
According to the executive director for Sea Haven, there were 654 homeless kids in Horry County last year. But Christina Jackson says that number is only based on kids who are registered for school. So she believes there are more.
The non-profit helps more than 400 students each year through all of the available programs and shelters. Sea Havens provides for the immediate emergency need of food and shelter. But the organization also provides counseling, job and school resources, and life skills.
"We want to let these kids know that we're here," says Jackson. "We can help you. Your problems probably extend past just hunger. Whether you're homeless, or there's domestic violence, or there's abuse in the home. Whatever the situation may be. We are here."
Click here for more information on services provided by Sea Haven, donation drop off locations, and how you can help volunteer.
You can drop off food at any of the five North Myrtle Beach Fire Stations.
Station 1: 2nd Avenue South
Station 2: Sea Mountain Highway
Station 3: 33rd Avenue South
Station 4: Little River Neck Road
Station 5: Barefoot Resort