MYRTLE BEACH—More than 200 children and their families received some much needed help and a message of God’s love on a recent Saturday along the Grand Strand.
At the YMCA of Myrtle Beach on Aug. 12, staff members from Catholic Charities and volunteers from local churches, businesses and the community participated in A Day of Hope, an annual back-to-school event that offers much-needed supplies and services to children and families.
Organizer Sheila Karsevar said she was motivated to start the event three years ago after watching a TV show about a ministry that helped inner-city children and the homeless with medical care.
“I got emotional watching it because I had been praying to God to show me a way I could help others,” Karsevar said. “I prayed and heard God say loud and clear that we needed to have something like that in Horry County to help the needy and homeless here.”
The event has grown each year since it started and is a truly ecumenical effort. Many different churches contribute goods and services for A Day of Hope, including the Methodist church that Karsevar attends, a nondenominational church in Carolina Forest, and St. James Church in Conway and St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet, which collected school supplies and money. Workers from Catholic Charities of the Pee Dee organized the drive and handled registration for the families.
A Day of Hope also offered a wide range of assistance for participants. Children were given backpacks full of school supplies and each family received multiple bags of household items. The kids were offered free haircuts, dental care and vision screenings, while a volunteer spoke to adults about ways to get assistance such as housing. The Salvation Army provided lunch, and during one emotional part of the day children were given new shoes after volunteers washed their feet, sharing the story of how Jesus had washed the feet of His disciples.
“Throughout the day, all these kids and everyone here hears a message of hope,” Karsevar said. “We want them to know that Jesus loves them and God has a plan for their lives.”
Members of the two parishes that gathered school supplies went above and beyond in the amount they collected, according to Kelly Kaminski, regional coordinator of Catholic Charities Pee Dee.
“We were overwhelmed by the wonderful response we had,” Kaminski said. “We would not have been able to supply so many students with what they needed without their support.”
Donations of supplies have continued to come into the parishes even after A Day of Hope, and Catholic Charities will hand them out as the school year progresses. Kaminski said her office works with liaisons for homeless students in the Horry County School District to find out who needs school supplies and other assistance.
Top photo: Donna Wynn, a volunteer from Myrtle Beach, laughs with one of the children who participated in the Day of Hope event held on Aug. 12.