HARGRAY CUSTOMERS’ SPARE CHANGE ADDS UP FOR AREA NONPROFIT GROUPS
As the Rev. Dr. Nannette Pierson made her way to the front of the room, she gave a warning to those who awaited her arrival.
“You know I’m a hugger,” she said before embracing four members of the Caring Coins Foundation board. She also collected an $8,000 check on behalf of the Sandalwood Community Food Pantry, one of the more than 100 area organizations that have benefited from Hargray’s Caring Coins program.
The telecommunications company established the Caring Coins Foundation in 2003 to support local non-profit organizations in Bluffton, Hardeeville and Hilton Head. Its mission has since expanded to included community organizations in Ridgeland and Beaufort.
Participants in the program are Hargray Communications customers who voluntarily round up their monthly bill. For each customer participating, the average contribution is $5.27 per year. The spare "change" collected is disbursed quarterly by an independent board of directors and the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
There was plenty of love to go around this holiday season.
Thirty-nine local charities were awarded grants totaling $170,000 at a presentation Dec. 12 at the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island. Including this year’s contributions, Caring Coins has distributed more than $3 million to area nonprofit groups.
“Pennies really do make a difference,” said Paula Harper Bethea, who has been chairwoman of the Caring Coins Foundation since its inception. “I would venture to say they’ve made a difference in countless lives in our communities.”
The program has been a huge boon to Pierson’s food pantry, which started nine years ago serving five families and has grown to support more than 800 families today. Pierson said the $8,000 grant she received this year will go toward purchasing a used pickup for hauling garbage and recycling, as well as for picking up USDA non-perishable food distributions from Yemassee rather than making three trips in smaller vehicles.
“Hargray and its customers have gone above and beyond,” Pierson said. “I’m overwhelmed with how much they bless us each year.”
Pierson isn’t alone. Bluffton Self Help has received more than $150,000 in grants through the program since 2003 — one of five local groups that have reaped six figures in donations from Caring Coins. This year’s $9,000 grant will support Bluffton Self Help’s short-term emergency financial assistance program for working families, which includes helping with past-due rent payments and utility bills, as well has helping cover medication costs.
“The impact Hargray Caring Coins has had on our organization and, ultimately, our community is profound,” said Kimberly Hall, the organization’s executive director. “We are able to support more than 21 families with their investment this year, and over the years they have supported thousands of Bluffton neighbors in need. We are grateful for their generous support through the kindness of Hargray customers.”
Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka and Hilton Head Island Mayor David Bennett read a joint proclamation at the event establishing Dec. 12, 2017, as Hargray Caring Coins Day and celebrating all the good the program has done in the Lowcountry. Sulka has watched the need for charity grow right along with Bluffton, and Caring Coins has been there to help fulfill that need. Bennett sees the same on Hilton Head.
“There’s typically more need in the community than there are dollars available, so for many of these nonprofits that are working hard to serve our most needy citizens it’s very important to allowing them to make ends meet,” Bennett said. “I’m sure they left here today with an extra spring in their step and hearts that are very grateful.”
CARING FOR OTHERS
Through the contributions of Hargray customers, the Caring Coins Foundation has distributed more than $3 million in grants to Lowcountry charities since 2003. This year, 39 area organizations received grants totaling $170,000:
AccessHealth of the Low Country: $5,000
Antioch Educational Center: $4,000
Bluffton Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine: $7,000
Bluffton Self Help: $9,000
Born to Read : $500
Boys & Girls Club of the Lowcountry-Bluffton: $2,000
Boys & Girls Club of the Lowcountry-Northern Beaufort: $3,000
Child Abuse Prevention Association: $4,000
Children's Center: $7,500
Family Promise of Beaufort County: $3,000
Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity: $3,000
Helping Hands Center: $2,000
Heroes on Horseback: $3,000
Island Recreation Center: $2,000
Hopeful Horizons: $7,000
Hospice Care of the Lowcountry: $6,000
Jasper County Council on Aging: $4,000
Jasper County Neighbors United: $2,000
The Literacy Center: $6,000
LowCountry Habitat for Humanity: $3,000
Lowcountry Legal Volunteers: $3,000
Memory Matters: $8,000
Operation R & R: $2,500
Osprey Village, Inc.: $2,500
Pregnancy Center & Clinic: $7,000
Project Safe: $6,000
Resource Foundation for Jasper County Disabilities: $3,500
Ronald McDonald House: $4,000
Sandalwood Community Food Pantry: $8,000
The Sandbox, An Interactive Children's Museum: $1,000
Second Helpings: $9,000
Special Olympics Area 8: $2,000
The Deep Well Project: $9,000
Volunteers in Medicine: $5,000
Women of Faith: $2,000
YMCA of Beaufort County: $2,000
2017 Total Grants: $170,000