By Joanne Threlfall for The Island Connection
The ladies of Backpack Buddies Seabrook Island and The Kiawah Women’s Foundation have a simple joint mission. Every Friday we both provide children at risk of hunger, with backpacks filled with healthful, shelf-stable foods, to sustain them over the weekend. These two neighboring groups serve the following Johns Island schools: Angel Oak, Mt. Zion, and Frierson Elementary, Haut Gap Middle School, and St. John’s High School, as well as Lambs Elementary in North Charleston. Together we provide for over 375 students. All these schools have a very high poverty rate. Our mission is to ensure that no child experiences hunger.
While food programs at local pantries and churches do exist, most are not prepared to address the unique needs of high-poverty rural communities such as John’s and Wadmalaw Islands, where a lack of transportation is so prevalent.
None of this would be possible without the continuous, loyal support of our volunteers and donors. “Through generous donations from so many individuals, groups and local merchants, we are filling a great need,” stated Terry Weaver, a founding partner of the Kiawah Women’s Foundation.
One such generous donor is local merchant, Kiawah Fine Jewelry. Kiawah Fine Jewelry generously hosted a fundraising event this past fall for both backpack buddies groups. During the months of September and October, Bill and Wendy Henzy, owners of Kiawah Fine Jewelry donated 10 percent of the proceeds from earrings, and Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island bracelets, specially designed for the backpack buddy programs, to the two groups.
Children need to be able to come to school on Monday morning fed, focused and eager to learn. These programs help make that happen. Charleston County’s Communities In Schools social workers and teachers have told us that they see major changes in the concentration of students benefiting from these programs.
Both Backpack Buddies Seabrook Island and the Kiawah Women’s Group are 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations. If you would like additional information regarding the Seabrook program, please visit: www.Backpackbuddiesseabrookisland.com or contact Joanne Threlfall at 203.417.8518. For the Kiawah program, contact Terry Weaver at 843.768.7233 or visit their website at: www.Kiawahwomensfoundation.org. All donations are tax deductible as permitted by law.