BLUFFTON, SC (WSAV ) – The pandemic is still in full swing and more people are in need than ever.

But so are the organizations that are giving back.

The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry has raised and given out more than $655,000 in four counties to 43 non-profit organizations through its COVID-19 relief fund the past year alone, and they aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

“The reality is we know that there are going to be economic hardships that last beyond the pandemic and people will have to dig out of some pretty significant holes,” said Scott Wierman, President/CEO Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.

The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry has come with the cash needed to help local agencies fill those holes.

“Every dollar that we get goes right back out,” said Wierman. “Because we have a strong non-profit community we have been able to invest directly into their infrastructure to allow them to meet the needs of their client.”

One of the biggest issues they believe still remains, housing insecurity.

Evictions looming, back rent due, people still trying to catch up from past layoffs or job loss. Many people will need help just to keep a roof over their heads.

“The whole issue of having to maintain your apartment or your housing has hit people that probably have never had to deal with that issue in the past.”

The other major issue, food, or the lack of it for some families.

“Our programs have had to be creative and everything that used to be indoors moved outside,” said Constance Martin Witter, Executive Director, Bluffton Community Soup Kitchen.

Since COVID-19 started, the Bluffton Community Soup Kitchen has increased from two to four days a week and gone from 25 to 100 shoppers, and that’s not including their meal delivery program.

“At the end of 2020 for our year of hot meal delivery, preparation and pass out we exceeded 15,000 meals,” explains Constance. “People who stay at home, work from home, and residents that are laid off or are just jobless.”

They are doing it all with about 20% of their normal volunteer staff. Older volunteers decided the danger was too much for them to come regularly. Thankfully the Community Foundation grant was there, helping to pay part-time salaries for former members to come back and cook those hot meals.

“Food issues continue during this pandemic, everything has gone up in price, construction, food, services, even the restaurants charge a COVID-19 charge. So you can’t even go get a good meal at a good price.”

“The prices are not going to go down, families of a lot of our clients work 2-3 jobs during regular times. The working, non-skilled residents here a lot of your locals that are able to live here only because they live on heirs property.”

“The needs are going to be here because you have to have food,” explains Martin Witter. “That’s something you can’t live without, and we are committed to providing that service so whatever we have to do we will continue to do it.”

Now the Soup Kitchen is adding “hot stuff boxes” for rural families in Allendale, Hampton, and Jasper County who haven’t seen the help many areas have and need food now more than ever. The boxes include cleaning supplies, bleach, sanitizers, soap, and toilet paper. things that are key to just surviving during the pandemic.

Bluffton Community Soup Kitchen

The Community Foundation says none of this would be possible without the generosity of the people in the Lowcountry.

Now they want to go back to these agencies who need it most and offer them a second chance to create new programs.

The hope is donations will keep coming in as long as there are people in need.

If you would like to donate,