The words “homeless” and “hungry” don’t come to mind when thinking of Daniel Island and the surrounding areas. However, the community is not exempt from the problems of food insecurity and homelessness.
In October 2020, Daniel Island resident Courtney Zalinski and her friend Ristine Sutton started collecting food for the local homeless population. “At the time, several local homeless shelters and food kitchens were temporarily closed due to COVID, and we wanted to
help the less fortunate who were dramatically affected by the pandemic ... Our goal is to supply 150 bagged lunches weekly.”
There is no formal organization — just a grassroots effort by residents who deliver lunches where the homeless congregate locally. Donations can be dropped off on Thursdays on Zalinski’s porch.
Zalinski appreciates all the community support. “Many families have involved their children in making sandwiches to donate. It’s wonderful to see how proud the little ones are when they drop the donations off on my porch.”
One80 Place, the area’s largest provider of homeless services in the Lowcountry, has offered help and shelter to clients since 1984. The shelter also provides legal services, employment and educational services, educational training, time-limited financial assistance, substance abuse and mental health counseling and a health clinic.
According to Chief Development Officer Lara LeRoy, the pandemic exacerbated the homelessness problem. “Due to social distancing, we operated at a reduced capacity and therefore have served fewer people. In addition, the number of people we assisted, required greater assistance, and stayed in the shelter longer ... One of the ways in which we have addressed this is by housing people in a hotel in the North area. Presently, we have 87 people in shelter in the hotel, 57 of whom are children.”
During the holidays, monetary donations and grocery store gift cards are especially needed. Financial donations support the work that goes into getting and keeping someone housed — 95 cents of every dollar received goes directly to funding programs that end homelessness.
The Navigation Center on Meeting Street is a coalition of service providers and organizations that offer resources to Charleston individuals experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. On average, each month the Navigation Center helps prevent an average of eight families from becoming homeless.
CEO Marie Elana Roland says Daniel Island residents have been very supportive. Currently the center could use food donations and warm clothing.
In 2003, Huger residents Dr. Levi and Janet Wright founded Feeding of the Multitudes, a local charity that aims to feed the community’s hungry and homeless. The need locally continues to grow.
“At one time we were serving over 60 homeless families ... Many families are embarrassed to reveal their state of homelessness and in most cases are one missed paycheck away from being homeless or facing a hunger crisis,” according to the Wrights.
Currently, Feeding of the Multitudes does food distributions in the back parking lot of the Shell gas station on Clements Ferry Road. They hope through community donations and support to purchase a new 24-foot cargo food truck and a permanent building to operate their food pantry.
During the holidays, community members are especially generous with donations like food, clothing, and gifts. However, it’s important to remember that after the season ends the need still continues.
*Scroll throught the pictures at top of article to see donation drop-off information.