Day of Hope eases back-to-school burdens in Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH—The back-to-school season can be stressful for everyone, but is especially tough on families with financial struggles.

Buying school supplies, new clothes and shoes must be balanced against the cost of rent, food, and transportation, and many don’t know where to turn to get what their kids need before classes start.

For the past four years, an event in Myrtle Beach called Day of Hope has helped ease the back to school burden for Grand Strand area families.

This year’s Day of Hope took place Aug. 11 at the YMCA of Myrtle Beach. More than 100 volunteers representing 40 different ministries and services from around Horry County were on hand to serve 82 families.

Day of Hope was started by Myrtle Beach resident Sheila Karsevar, who said she was looking for a way to help others and asked God for guidance.

“I felt like God told me to find a way to help children in need in Horry County,” Karsevar said. “I got the idea in November of 2014 and in the next few months God put people in my path.”

She met people who offered to help collect supplies, coordinate volunteers and do publicity for her envisioned event. The first Day of Hope took place in 2015.

Since then, it has become a late-summer mainstay both for volunteers and for the families who sign up. This year, 210 children were helped.

Children who attend are given backpacks filled with school supplies, but they receive a lot more than that. This year, they were given new shoes through a program called Samaritan’s Feet.

Local Lions’ Clubs sponsored visual screenings, plus there were free dental screenings and haircuts, and the Salvation Army served lunch.

Each family also received bags filled with household supplies and toiletries, and parents could get information about housing programs and other assistance.

As in previous years, workers from Catholic Charities helped register families. St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach, St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet, and St. James Church in Conway collected school supplies, money and other needed items for the event. Families that registered but couldn’t attend can pick up their supplies in the future at the Catholic Charities office in Conway.

Karsevar said A Day of Hope is a special effort because it brings people from so many different denominations and backgrounds together, all working toward one goal — helping those in need.

“We have always said this is God’s day,” Karsevar said. “All the supplies are prayed over before we give them out, and we give all the glory to Him. There is a happy, joyful atmosphere because we are there to serve the people, and especially the kids.”

Photos provided: A boy leaves with a backpack full of donated school supplies.