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Summer food collection launches in Sunset Beach

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SUNSET BEACH—Carol Scott hates the thought of wasted food—so much so, it spurred her to take action.

A few weeks ago, the Sunset Beach resident initiated a first for her island—a summer food collection and fundraiser for the dwindling pantry at Brunswick Family Assistance.

“Like many other people on the island, many of us started out as renters,” said Scott, a Virginia resident who lives part-time on the island with her husband, Pete, and hopes to retire there permanently in the near future.

“I knew what kind of food we threw out,” she said.

With cooperation from Sunset Properties, Sunset Vacations and Sunset Beach Rentals, the island’s main vacation-house rental companies, Scott single-handedly printed and distributed fliers encouraging vacationers to donate any unused, unopened food to a good cause, Brunswick Family Assistance.

For years, Scott had heard stories about the massive amounts of food vacationers left behind as they were leaving the island.

She knew it would be nice if someone could collect it, “but nobody had really done anything about it,” she said.

Ocean Isle Beach and Holden Beach already had respective, separate summer food collection programs, dubbed A Second Helping.

“When I was down here in February or March, I spoke to people on the island initially about doing this,” she said. “People are reluctant to set something up.”

Once she’d decided to try launching a food drive this year on the third Brunswick island, “I had the support of friends who are residents on the island,” Scott said.

She garnered the support of Sunset Beach Town Councilman Bob Bobinski, who serves on the BFA board, as well as Adrienne Watts of Sunset Properties and Randall Morrison at Sunset Vacations.

After Watts agreed to include fliers in her business’ welcome envelopes, Scott spent $170 of her own money printing more than 4,000 fliers to distribute among visitors.

“I had no problem with doing that,” she said, describing the effort as her personal contribution “to see what would happen.”

“What happened” has been overwhelming during the program’s six-week trial period that began June 28.

After setting up collection boxes, Scott has been arriving at the businesses at 6 a.m. on Saturdays—traditional changeover day for vacationers—to accept food and monetary contributions from departing guests as they check out until 11 a.m.

July Fourth weekend, she collected 356 pounds of food and $153 in cash contributions. This past Saturday, she collected more bag-loads of mostly nonperishable food and $165 in cash. Both were delivered to BFA by the Scotts this past Monday morning.

Foods that have been requested and delivered include canned meats and beans, peanut butter, unopened boxes of cereal, boxed or bottled juices and other drinks, ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese. Scott said they’ve also received bread products and unopened, individually-sealed packets of leftover snacks, as well as an unopened bottle of milk this past Saturday.

BFA director Joe Cannon said he was thrilled, pointing out shelves are looking bare in the pantry. Summer, he said, is always the most difficult time as BFA strives to help residents and their families who struggle to have enough food and other basics.

“I had also been told their food donations in the summer months really drop when the need is most and they get the least,” Scott said. “So it’s wonderful to have a source of food. The response has been so enthusiastic, and everybody has been extremely cooperative.”

The program has been going so well Scott already has plans in the works to make the food mission an annual event.

“Next year it will probably be from mid-June to mid- to late August,” she said.

To get the word out more efficiently, she is hoping in the future to convert the paper fliers to more permanent, laminated announcements that can be placed in rental homes. Too many vacationers, she said, are still not learning in time about the request for their unused food.

Their reaction overall, she said, has been enthusiastic and supportive.

“People around here are just great,” she said. “I can’t wait to move here permanently.”

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.