Helping Hands Ministries provides food assistance to those in need despite COVID-19 shortages

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WOODRUFF, S.C. (WSPA) – Helping Hands Ministries has seen an increase in people needing food during COVID-19, and with the help from the community they are able to continue their mission of helping others.

On a normal day, Ashley Bennett would be standing at the front of a classroom surrounded by a room full of middle school students, but since school is now remote she has been spending most of her time at Helping Hands Ministries volunteering with her husband and two children.

“It has drastically filled a hole for me because not being able to be with my students, that is my day in and day out and working with people, that’s my life. Being here fills that void,” Bennett said.

According to Sandi Turner, director at Helping Hands Ministries, help from their volunteers is much needed right now because many of their regular volunteers are seniors who’ve opted to stay home for their own safety.

She also said that even though they serve a rural and small population of District 4 in Spartanburg County they’re seeing many new faces and an increase of people needing food.

“We have seen an increase. We’ve seen new folks come in that have not needed our services in the past but do now because they’re being furloughed or laid off from their jobs,” Turner said.

When the COVID-19 crisis first started they loosened their policies to allow for them to help a wider group of people, including those who’ve been furloughed or laid off from their jobs.

Turner said they’ve received help from companies such as Publix and Food Lion, which provides them with fresh food daily.

Most recently Little Caesars and Pizza Hut donated their leftover pizzas from the day to Helping Hands Ministries, but there are a few items they need such as canned goods and toilet paper.

Staff and volunteers at Helping Hands want to let the community know not to be ashamed to ask for help, and they are more than happy to help with food during these trying times.

“If you are in need of food, it is certainly okay to ask. You may have never been in this situation before, but that’s why we’re here for crisis situations,” Turner said.

Bennett has been selected as a finalist for South Carolina’s Teacher of the Year, and although things haven’t gone as planned this school year, she says she’s happiest when she’s giving others a helping hand.

“I’ve found in life that serving people is what you do. When you’re stressed out and you have anxiety you just get out there and help other people and it helps you,” Bennett said.

For more information about Helping Hands Ministries visit their website.

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