PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — Christmas will be a little brighter for some Upstate families, thanks to two non-profits.

Feed & Seed Co., in Greenville, is gearing up to give over 100 food share boxes (fresh food boxes), to families in need in Pickens County. The organization is partnering with the Salvation Army of Pickens County for the effort.

“Feed & Seed oversees the Food Share Pickens County program, and that’s a Fresh Food Box Program, basically whole fruits and vegetables within the box, and it goes out for distribution every other week,” said Meredith Rice, Programs Manager at Feed & Seed Co.

“We’re actually extending that program in partnership with Salvation Army Pickens County, to offer every family that’s getting Christmas assistance through their Angel Tree Program, to also receive a Food Share box, so that family is also getting a little extra support this holiday season,” Rice said.

It’s the time of year when people gather around the table for a big feast, or under their large Christmas trees to open presents. However, many don’t have the luxury to have gifts or food.

“It is a big need,” said Autumn Shearin, Director of the Service Center for the Salvation Army of Pickens County. “Pickens County is in so much poverty. The level of poverty is higher than the national, and food security is an issue in Pickens County,” she said. “So, along with food security, because those are basic needs, there are going to be needed for special things like Christmas, and that’s why we’ve come together and partnered because basic needs and sort of joy together,” Shearin said.  

“There’s a lot of people on different circumstances that especially around the holiday season, could benefit from a little extra support,” Rice said. “Whether it’s their work or trying to do Christmas stuff…trying to spend a little more with that,” Rice said. “Also, kids are home, so for the families that are getting that support, we want to give them a little extra this season and especially provide them something with a little more nutrition,” Rice said.

According to Shearin, more than 340 kids are on the list to receive presents, through their Angel Tree Program.

Toys and gifts for the Salvation Army of Pickens County’s Angel Tree Program

“341 children, and so there are around 100 families or so that will receive a box of produce to help with the holidays,” Shearin said.

Feed & Seed, a non-profit that works with farmers to ensure everyone has access to nutritional food options, plans to give out nearly 150 food share boxes to those receiving the gifts from the Salvation Army.

“Every box includes about 10 to 12 different items,” Rice said. “So, this box, you got the apples, bananas, and oranges, and you’ve got avocados, and tomatoes, and onions. We try to incorporate local where we can,” Rice said. “This box, you’ve got locally grown lettuce from Spartanburg. You’ve got sweet potatoes and carrots from Lauren’s County,” she said.

“Part of our goal with Feed & Seed is to provide fresh food access to the community,” Rice said. “Just trying to problem solve together as a county, to increase fresh food access for all families, especially those in need,” she said.

Shearin said this was unexpected.

“This was a big surprise, for something to be able to give to the families on top of it,” Shearin said. “It will be a good surprise for them too because they’re not expecting it,” she said.

Overall, the two non-profits just want to spread joy and cheer one gift and one food item at a time.

“I want this added level of what they’re able to receive…these fresh food items, just to be just a bonus for the whole family,” Rice said. “Just to know there’s a little extra food on the table this holiday, that goes a long way,” she said.

“Just relief and some hope,” Shearin said. “A lot more is to come in 2023 with prices of food, the cost of living,” she said. “We just want to be there, and we just want them to feel relief and hope,” Shearin said.

The Salvation Army of Pickens County will distribute both the Angel Tree gifts and the Food Share boxes from Feed & Seed on Monday, December 19th.

The Food Share boxes will be given to each family free of charge.

“We’re providing each family that free of charge, and that’s something that we’re able to do with the support of donors,” Rice said. “We actually did a Giving Tuesday fundraiser, and asked people to provide as little as they can, or as much as they can, but each box costs about $20.00 to provide. So, from the funds that we raised through Giving Tuesday, we’re able to get those families a paid-for box, free to them,” she said.

To learn more about the Food Share Program or how you can help with other Feed & Seed initiatives, click here.