In the wake of Hurricane Joaquin, a team from Golden Harvest headed to Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, SC with one mission: to distribute food and water to hungry flood victims who had lost their belongings and homes. Led by Golden Harvest’s Executive Director Travis McNeal, our team joined a crew of volunteers at Harvest Hope’s emergency food distribution on October 6th. But what they found went beyond the destruction; it was a community heroically caring for one another.
When the team arrived at 8:30 a.m., the line of vehicles waiting for food assistance stretched over a mile long. Members of the National Guard stood by to direct traffic. The volume of need in the area became evident as over 600 vehicles came through the line over the course of just 6 hours.
Inside Harvest Hope, volunteer crews worked busily to assemble bags full of produce, canned food, and bottled water and load them into waiting cars. “The vehicles were filled with exhausted, heartbroken individuals and families,” said Ann Ancog, Volunteer Coordinator at Golden Harvest and part of the emergency team; “most had not been outside in days, and many had no power or water.”
Yet despite these difficult circumstances, the atmosphere inside and outside the Food Bank was incredibly supportive and positive. “I was amazed by the hundreds of volunteers that quickly jumped in to help: students, associations, companies, families and church groups,” said Ancog, “and even after waiting 1-2 hours for assistance, the passengers in the vehicle line were so kind, patient and appreciative.” One father drove through the line early in the morning to pick up food for his family, then stayed for the rest of the day to load food into vehicles.
Golden Harvest’s McNeal expects the need for food to continue as the people of South Carolina recover from the destruction. “Harvest Hope has a tremendous need to fill, and we will continue to support the relief effort in any way we can,” said McNeal; “we are proud to be able to do our part in serving our South Carolina neighbors.”
“We really appreciate the caring support from our sister Food Bank in Augusta,” said Harvest Hope’s Ash Little; “South Carolinians are forever grateful for the touching response from all over the country!” Harvest Hope has provided over 1.2 million meals to flood victims so far.