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BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) — Every single week, the shelves of the food pantry at Bluffton Self Help are a lifeline for hundreds of Lowcountry families in Beaufort and Jasper Counties.

And an army of volunteers helps to meet the community’s needs.

“The very first day that I walked in the door, I was totally amazed,” said Sally Hiers, who helps out every Monday. “I kind of had a yearning in my heart to do something; something was missing and I wanted to do something special so I called a friend and asked about a place to volunteer in the community and the first place they said is Bluffton Self Help.”

That was three years ago and Hiers is still inspired to give her time and talents.

“The setup of this organization is entirely different than anything else I’ve ever volunteered with — you walk in here and there’s a store and the people get to shop,” Hiers said. “The atmosphere just makes you feel a place of caring. It’s a welcoming atmosphere and it shows our neighbors self-respect and dignity because they’re the ones picking out what they need for their family.”

Basic needs are just part of the offerings: Bluffton Self Help aims to improve the lives of those in the Lowcountry through education and training as well. More than 400 volunteers are paying it forward to the community through the non-profit and they are the backbone of its mission.

“Bluffton Self Help really relies on our volunteers for pretty much every aspect of our program, our services,” said Danny Dekruif, marketing and communications manager. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the help of our community.”

And for volunteers like Sally Hiers, the appreciation is mutual.

“Paying it forward is being willing to give your time, your talents and your treasures to others,” said Hiers. “By volunteering here at Bluffton Self Help, you will certainly do that.”