An effort to supply bags of food to riders of Palmetto Breeze Transit got a boost today from the Sonesta Resort, Hilton Head Island. The Sonesta donated $3,500 to enable Second Helpings to purchase 700 thermal bags that are used in the FILL THE NEED program. The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce facilitated the donation.
Second Helpings coordinates FILL THE NEED with Palmetto Breeze Transit. Through this effort, every Thursday, since October 2017, Second Helpings volunteers fill bags of food for workers who commute to Hilton Head Island for work via the Palmetto Breeze buses.
Jay Wiendl, general manager at the Sonesta Resort, said, “The work that Second Helpings does for our community is truly special, and our Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island family is simply honored to play a small part in the continued success.”
Margie Tomczak coordinates FILL THE NEED as a volunteer and board member for Second Helpings, a role she has held since the program started in October, 2017. According to Tomczak, “We are close to completing our second year of the FILL THE NEED program. The previous thermal bags are very worn. We have had a number of riders who have been receiving food weekly since the beginning. These new thermal bags, donated by the Sonesta, are much bigger and stronger. With the summer upon us it is critical that the riders transport the frozen meats and other perishable food items safely during their hour-plus ride home on the bus. We are so grateful for this wonderful donation.”
Larry Landry, president of the Second Helpings board of directors, also thanked the Chamber leadership. “We are very grateful for the support of Hilton Head Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and its President and CEO Bill Miles to facilitate this wonderful donation from Sonesta Resort and its General Manager Jay Wiendl.”
Chamber President & CEO Bill Miles said, “The partnership between Second Helpings and our tourism community is an impactful relationship for all of those involved. The Sonesta Resort’s dedication to being a strong community partner supports Second Helpings’ commitment to feeding those in need. We applaud their success and their cooperative effort to make a difference in the Lowcountry.”
The Chamber recognized Second Helpings and Palmetto Breeze Transit as Organization of the Year in 2018 because of the FILL THE NEED program. FILL THE NEED was started in response to a concern from Palmetto Breeze leaders who recognize that many of the individuals who ride the buses to work on Hilton Head get home too late to go to food banks and pantries for food. One recipient estimates the food saves her at least $80 a month. Another benefit is that the program operates on Thursday, the day before many of the riders are paid on Friday, so food is in short supply.
Second Helpings supplies 57 agencies in Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton counties with food rescued from 30 food donors. More than 300 volunteers staff eight refrigerated trucks to pick up and deliver food that is free to senior centers, food pantries, and other agencies.