UNION COUNTY — A local non-profit organization which provides thousands of pounds of meat and household items to those in need is looking to have a larger presence in Union County.
The South Carolina Hunters and Landowners for the Hungry began in 2004, when eight or nine local hunters discussed an idea for a non-profit organization, according to Harold Campbell, secretary of the organization.
“I’ve been with it since Day 1,” Campbell said. “We were at a place on Hennington Road (Spartanburg County) where we would hang out. We hunted and processed our own deer. We gave away 10 percent of the meat to other local programs. Then we found out about the Virginia Hunters for the Hungry, and we modeled ourselves after them.”
In 2004, Campbell and the South Carolina Hunters and Landowners for the Hungry distributed over 9,600 pounds of venison to individuals in need, serving Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties. The group grew and was able to distribute over 46,000 pounds of venison one year, and last year, over 29,000 pounds of venison and wild hog was distributed. The organization currently provides for 150 families (averaging four people per family), and more applications will be taken after the first of the year. In addition to the program’s bi-monthly giveaways, they also provide to 31 other organizations.
“We all want to help people,” Campbell said. “There’s not one of us alive who doesn’t need help from time to time, whether it be food, money, medicine, or emotional help. This is our way of helping.”
Since the program began, over 1.5 million meals have been provided in meat alone, but distributions do not stop with fresh meat. A variety of other items are provided including household items, perishable and non-perishable items, toiletries, paper products such as paper towels, napkins and plates, cleaning supplies, toys, dog food, dog beds and more. The program is run by volunteers, with no paid employees. Funding is provided by United Way of the Piedmont, and donations come from various sources including Dollar General, Coca-Cola and other individuals.
The program’s treasurer Chris Bowyer said Campbell has certainly played an integral part in the program.
“We have three or four buildings Harold owns and just lets us use,” Bowyer said.
“We’ve evolved slowly, but we’ve evolved,” Campbell added.
The organization is currently in a milestone stage of evolution as the entire operation is in the process of being consolidated and moved in the the former Pacolet National Guard Armory, located on Sunny Acres Road in Pacolet. The group acquired the building in February and has been cleaning, painting and building shelves, counters and tables inside to keep items organized. The new headquarters will soon include a walk-in freezer to store perishable items. Campbell said the goal is for the move to be complete within the next three months.
“This is an opportunity to put everything in one place,” Campbell said.
Plans are for the program’s giveaway on the second Thursday in May to take place at the new location in Pacolet. Campbell said group members are extremely thankful for the graciousness of the Town of Pacolet for making this move possible.
“We owe a lot to the Town of Pacolet and the United Way of the Piedmont,” he said.
Campbell said the group would like to have a larger presence in Union County, and on Wednesday, he and Bowyer guided a walk-through of the new headquarters and progress being made for the United Way of the Piedmont and The Union Times.
Missy Kirby Wilkes — United Way’s Community Relationship Manager for Union County — said she was impressed with the impact the group makes, as well as the genuine and welcoming nature of its members.
“I had the best time visiting with them,” Wilkes said. “They blew me away with kindness and their self-sacrificing personalities. I’m so tickled to share more about how they are helping feed the hungry in my hometown.”
There are several ways for local residents to get involved or volunteer with the program. For those who hunt, the program’s website — schuntersforthehungry.org — includes a list of processors which will accept donations of extra meat. The processors will donate the meat to the organization, and the organization reimburses the processors for processing.
There are also volunteer opportunities, particularly in the way of helping prepare the group’s new location. Those who are interested my contact Harold Campbell at (864) 590-1881 or Chris Bowyer at (864) 590-8056.
The South Carolina Hunters for the Hungry will hold its 11th annual benefit banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Pauline. The keynote speaker will be U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy, and dinner will include pork and chicken barbecue with sides and dessert. Door prizes — including guns, sporting goods, stands and gas gift cards — will be donated by local businesses. For more information, call (864) 585-9218 or visit www.schuntersforthehungry.org.
PHOTO: Harold Campbell, Carolyn “Cookie” Smith, Joe Putman, Missy Wilkes, Bridget Jones, Chris Bowyer and Jerry Burns
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or email@example.com.