On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, silent heroes arose throughout the region to help feed Jasper County’s most vulnerable residents… its children. Because of the efforts of these silent heroes, 1,000 children received backpacks during a week when the Jasper County School District (JCSD) was not providing their regular breakfast and lunches.
The Antioch Educational Center (AEC) agreed to provide food for nearly 1,000 students during the JCSD’s spring break that runs from April 13 – April 17, 2020. This meant that AEC had to rally some of its most dedicated volunteers as well as seek transportation assistance to deliver food to over 20 locations throughout Jasper County
First, AEC contacted and worked closely with the Lowcountry Food Bank, which agreed to donate the 1,000 backpacks of food that was provided for the students. Then came the task of getting the nearly 200 large boxes of food from Charleston to Yemassee, and from Yemassee to Ridgeland. This was done by two of AEC’s long time (nearly 10 years) volunteers, who are 82 years old. Mr. Fred Brantley and Sam Betterson took multiple vehicles and made two hard trips to help feed Jasper’s neediest residents.
Next, the food was divided into portions and delivered by a large team of volunteers. For this portion of the project, AEC called upon the Hope Zone, located in Ridgeland. This nonprofit partner of AEC then rallied other agencies to volunteer in delivering this much needed food. Persons who are members of the Decibel Church of Beaufort, Low Country Community Church of Bluffton, and Venture Church of Pritchardville came out to get the food delivered. The true spirit of championship also showed through with volunteers from Real Champions, of Ridgeland, who joined in to feed Jasper’s children.
“Hope Zone was just so grateful to be able to help out after receiving a call from AEC,” stated Cathy DeCourcy. Hope Zone took a lead in organizing the drivers to make the deliveries throughout the county. “Only by working together were we able to fulfill the two-day mission of such proportion,” replied DeCourcyy.
“It was unbelievable, stated Jackie O’Bannon, Executive Director of AEC. “While many of us know of the kind hearted and sharing spirit of many of those in our community, it still is amazing to see the volume of persons who showed up to help. Not only that, some came in along the way as the need arose.”
Persons like Cynthia Robino, of the Tarboro community, rose to the occasion after receiving a telephone call from O’Bannon stating that the children were not showing up to get the food at the Tarboro Community Center. Ms. Robino immediately jumped in to help by picking up some neighborhood children, and loading her truck with 10 large boxes of food. She and her little smiling helpers then personally delivered 60 bags of food by going door to door of children in the Tarboro community.
“Its amazing how the old, young, Black, White, Baptist, Methodist and other faiths just step up in times of need. That is the true beauty of our region…its Silent Heroes. Even though I witness it often, I still am amazed every time I see it. As long as these kind hearted people keep coming out of the woodwork, to take on enormous projects, we will defeat the Coronavirus and come out stronger after it. That is why I love Jasper County and this entire region,” stated O’Bannon.