Help 4 Hope giving out gift cards, hope to needy Lowcountry families

Community

A little bit of help, a little bit of hope. one meal at a time.

That is the goal of a charitable program in the Lowcountry kicking off Thursday.

“Help 4 Hope” gave each person one card, worth four meals, or about $50.

But for many people battling furloughs, layoffs and the coronavirus itself it is worth much more than that.

It means a respite. A break. A virtual hug from their neighbors, their friends.

“We love you. thank you”

There was a lot of love on Hilton Head Island as Help 4 Hope held a drive up gift card giveaway, handing out 350 gift cards to folks in need.

“I spent a lot of time feeling helpless and hopeless in this situation and powerless frankly,” said Billy Watterson. “Unable to do anything. It just came to me that we needed to something great and something big for this community.”

“An emotional and overwhelming experience to see this Island and Bluffton crumbling around us. And I just had enough,” explains Billy Watterson of the Watterson Family Foundation.

That’s why Billy Watterson teamed up with local partners and the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry for this giveaway.

$50 worth of food from one of 40 different restaurants in Bluffton or Hilton Head for the people, which means even more to the community. The cards give a family the meal, then the restaurants get reimbursed for the cost by the Community Foundation.

“This goes beyond meals,” said Watterson. “Our real strategy is a triple bottom line we feed someone in need, we save a restaurant business, and then finally we keep some jobs. So for every dollar that comes through we get three touches from it.”

An event and idea that was touching the people who need it most.

“My company put the blessing on it they put me in a new apartment but because I got furloughed I couldn’t pay the rent and my roommate kicked me out.” said one man who got a card. “Well with these guys right here they are making it a little bit easier.”

Easier for the businesses who need it to survive

“I never had to furlough one person in my 14-15 years with Hudson’s,” said Andrew Carmines Owner of Hudson’s Seafood. “With this, I had to furlough roughly 75 employees in one day.”

Andrew Carmines of Hudson’s Seafood says its a great program for all involved.

“The restaurants can employ more people so our business is better we can staff the restaurants better and those people are gainfully employed and those people can also use these cards to feeds their families,” said Carmines.

Families who can use a little boost to make it through..

“There are so many folks right now sitting at home saying I want to help, I want to be engaged,” said Watterson. “but I’m afraid, I’m compromised, I’m fearful. We want you to take control of that fear and be able to engage in this community by investing in this program.”

“I think it is important for the restaurant employees to know this is not their fault,” said Carmines. “This is an unprecedented health emergency that is affecting a lot of people and there is nothing wrong with getting one of these cards and spending it at one of these restaurants because not only are you feeding your family, you are helping keep restaurants open and workers employed.”

“It is hope we are peddling hope here today,” said Watterson. “Sometimes you get caught up in the food itself but the reality is and I say this being someone who was a recipient of these things growing up, there’s hope. Even if it’s for just one more meal there’s hope involved, that’s the transaction. What’s even better is we are giving these individuals a chance to be part of the rebuilding. They are going to go invest that capital that we just handed them in a restaurant fo their choice, in their neighborhood.”

“There’s hope,” said Watterson. “Even if it is for just one more meal there’s hope involved, That’s the transaction.”

If you are in need, Help 4 Hope plans similar giveaways in Bluffton and Hilton head in the coming weeks.

You can also get a gift card at Bluffton Self Help or the Deep Well Project.

If you would like to help the Foundations buy more cards and help more people, you can go to https://www.help4hopenow.org/ and make a donation or get a gift card for yourself.

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