America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia provided more than 12 million pounds of food to those in need last year, and that number is set to rise thanks to a new volunteer center.
On Thursday, representatives from Second Harvest and Colonial Group Inc., which sponsored the new center, cut the ribbon on the 10,000-square-foot facility at 2651 Causton Bluff Road near the organization’s headquarters off President Street.
The facility features large work spaces, a teacher’s nook stocked with school supplies and a new Working Family Pantry sponsored by Publix Super Markets Charities. The organization will be able to expand its reach by about 10 percent.
The pantry will help those families who, even after working multiple jobs, struggle to put food on the table. The pantry will be open after normal work hours during the week and on Saturdays to accommodate working families with food assistance, said Mary Jane Crouch, executive director of Second Harvest.
“If they’re working a minimum wage job and you’ve got a couple of children, sometimes by the time you pay the rent and the water bill and the other things there’s just absolutely no way to put food on the table,” she said.
Crouch said many times visitors in town for conventions and company functions look for a local place to volunteer, and the new facility will offer space for such events.
“Most large corporations that come to town for a convention actually want to do something for the community — they want to give back. This is going to enable us to have those large groups who want to come pack some boxes that we can then distribute the following week.” she said.
“We distribute around 1,500 boxes of food every week, so it’s going to allow us to increase that because we’ll have the volunteers to pack them and the space to hold them.”
The plans for the center started in 2015 and Christian Demere, vice president of Colonial Group, said that it didn’t take a lot of convincing for the company to jump on board.
“America’s Second Harvest is a great example of an organization that by supporting we all benefit and we can all share in that success,” Demere said.
“The calls of fighting hunger and helping those in need is a worthy thing itself to support, but then you have a place like America’s Second Harvest and the team they have in place and the many volunteers that are the lifeblood of the organization. You take all that together and they have generated a platform that has allowed this organization to have an incredible impact on the community and all they serve.”