This is Philanthropy Week in the Lowcountry, and it’s about thanking those who give their time and money to good causes. And inspiring others to do the same.
But why do people volunteer? What do they get from it? I decided to ask a few people.
Della W. Butler, 60, of Hollywood has been helping out at the Lowcountry Food Bank on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the past 10 years.
“I like helping people. I look forward to going there,” said Butler, who also runs the soup kitchen at her church, Wesley United Methodist.
Coincidence got her started at the food bank. She stopped by one day to pick up supplies for her church.
Staffers were short-handed and needed help. So Butler pitched in. It was as simple as that.
Now she’s there two days a week, doing “whatever needs to be done.” Mostly she helps prepare donated food to put on the shelves.
Butler — who with her husband, Abraham, has six children, 12 grands and two great-grands — also volunteers at E.B. Ellington Elementary School, where her grands go to school.
“I love it. I love it. I love the children,” she said. When the children misbehave, she talks to them and tells them to do better.
“I give them hugs.”
Everyone at school calls her “Gram.”
But Butler believes she is the one who is blessed. She’s the one who is able to give her time.
“God gave me another chance,” she said.
In 2002, she had a brain aneurysm and spent six days in the intensive care unit at North Trident Hospital. It was lunchtime at work, and she started feeling like “someone had taken an ax and chopped me in the back of my head.”
Her mouth was twisted, she was sweating and she couldn’t talk. The last thing she remembers was when her daughter came to the ER.
Butler has since recovered and has not slowed down much.
Girl Scout mom
Elaine Humphrey, 50, of Goose Creek was a Girl Scout leader who started volunteering at the food bank with her two daughters. But then she grew to love it.
As a project manager at Santee Cooper, she began volunteering some evenings. When she retired two years ago, Humphrey started working in the administrative offices once a week.
She enjoys giving back. The food bank “fulfills one of the most basic and important needs in the country. It is well-run, frugal and careful with its money.”
Staffers and the director are always so appreciative of volunteers, she said. She and her husband, Brent, have always made monetary donations to the food bank. Now, she enjoys physically working there.
“I am blessed to do it,” said Humphrey, whose daughters now are in high school and college.
Youths give back, too
Adults aren’t the only ones donating their time.
About 15 students in Military Magnet’s culinary class also volunteer at the food bank. They help prepare food, cut vegetables and cook.
Yadileydi Maldonado, a 17-year-old senior, wants to be a chef and run a restaurant one day.
“I love to cook,” she said, and volunteering is helping her fulfill her dream. In Mexico, where her parents are from, “You have to learn how to cook. It’s not like here where you eat out a lot.”
But volunteering means more to Yadileydi. “It feels good to help people out. Many people don’t have food and go without a meal.”
She is thankful her parents gave her a chance to learn and “do what I want with my life.” In Mexico, by now at her age, she would “be married with about three children.”
Husband and wife
Volunteering is sometimes a family affair.
Mary Bos, 61, of North Charleston has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for seven years. So has her husband, Patrick, 62, an Air Force retiree now in New Jersey helping out in Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath.
He runs a 200,000-square-foot warehouse there, and he won’t be back home until Friday. But he will only be here for a week. He will have to go back to New Jersey until January.
The husband-and-wife team love what they do. Bos, daughter of former North Charleston Mayor John Bourne, remembers the devastation from Hurricane Hugo and what it took for the Lowcountry to recover.
The Red Cross was a logical choice for them.
“It allows you to interact with so many different people, to cross all barriers — religious, political, social, economic. … You couldn’t pay for that kind of education. You could not pay me for what I do.”
So this week, say thank you to a volunteer. My hat’s off to the millions who give countless hours of their time.
And if you are looking for a place to volunteer, start with the Lowcountry Food Bank, the American Red Cross or a local school.
It’s time well-spent.
Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.