Yensey & Aaron, with their 3 beautiful babies. Photo Credit: Two Arrow Films
A HOLIDAY LIKE NO OTHER
At Bluffton Self Help, we have always known that it takes a strong fabric of community to address poverty in the lowcountry. We also know how difficult this year has been. We are all coping and adapting to the new realities of the global pandemic and its impact on our lives in different ways. We are learning to balance uncertainty and social isolation along with the increasingly challenging practical realities of everyday life.
As ripple effects of COVID-19 are felt and as we enter the holiday season, the need continues to grow. People are struggling to determine what a safe family gathering will look like while continuing to grapple with rising food insecurity and dwindling savings. The lasting effects of this pandemic have left neighbors wondering how to fill the gap left by loss of employment , loss of loved ones and loss of income.
For many of our neighbors, they have found themselves taking that very difficult and unfamiliar step of asking for help. Nearly 1 in 3 neighbors have lined up in Bluffton Self Help's Drive-thru Grocery Pick-up lines for the very first time. For others, the loss of a job, shifts or income are forcing families to make tough choices between paying for either rent, utilities, medication, or food. By October, almost four times as many people compared to before the pandemic received emergency financial assistance through our COVID-19 Family Relief Fund. And for some neighbors, the holidays, an added financial stressor, will look very different this year. The special holiday meals, the joy of gift giving and the magic of Christmas morning for their children may not be possible. Our Wellness Food pantry has and will continue to distribute over 32,000 lbs of donated special holiday groceries to help bring these families around the table and Bluffton Self Help's Toy Shop will help usher in the magic of the holidays for nearly 3,000 children this year.
Even through all of the difficulties that this year has brought, we continue to see kindness, generosity and resilience. We are inspired by our hardworking neighbors doing everything they can to get by; by those who have experienced loss and yet are still finding hope; and we are inspired by all of the ways - great and small - that our community has come together to support each other.
For one family, the stress that thousands of our neighbors are facing this holiday season is all too familiar. Aaron and Yensy, the husband and wife team and owners of Two Arrow Films can relate to the heartache of not being able to provide Christmas gifts for their children.
"My husband and I, a few years back, fell on hard times. We were in the beginning of starting out our film and photography business and doing the best we could. We were working hard to provide for our family but it got to the point that we weren’t able to give our kiddos gifts one Christmas. We continued to follow our passion and just kept trusting in God.
An aunt of ours mentioned Bluffton Self Help to us and that they may be able to help. So the next day I went ahead and signed up our kiddos for Bluffton Self Help's Toy Shop. When the day came to shop for gifts I expected just a single gift for each of my girls, but I was so wrong. As I walked into the Toy Shop I was so moved by the generosity of our community. I was immediately overwhelmed and overjoyed. I cried so much that day in happiness - we were able to have a Christmas after all. The amount of relief I felt that day was something I can’t describe. Ever since, I have wanted to give back and give that hope to other families.
Years later, as our business continues to grow and we are back on our feet, I'm so excited to be able to give that same relief and joy to other families, especially during one of the most difficult years."
This year, Two Arrow Films is using their amazing talents to do just that. Bringing families together for beautiful Christmas photography mini sessions and using the proceeds to donate toys for Bluffton Self Help’s Toy Shop to bring families together around the tree Christmas morning.
"I’m just so, so happy I get to give back to our community in this way and be able to give that moment of relief and joy to some families, with the help of our community! Seriously, THANK YOU! " - Yensey.
Thank you Yensey and Aaron, you have shown us the true meaning of neighbors helping neighbors. Thank you for reminding us that we all may need a little help sometimes and if we just do what we can, when we can, we can make a lasting impact. One small act of kindness and generosity can leave a rippling effect that continues to strengthen the fabric of our community. This holiday may be like no other but, together, with all of you, we are stronger.