Bi-Lo has launched its Summer Backpack Hunger Relief Program that will benefit Harvest Hope Food Bank and 22 other hunger relief agencies throughout the Southeast.

The initiative targets childhood hunger as local food banks prepare for the coming school year. The drive began last week and continues through Aug. 19. Customers are being encouraged to make a donation at any Bi-Lo store register to help provide meals. The contributions will go to the regional food banks to help fill backpacks with nutritious, fresh foods.

“The Bi-Lo Summer Backpack Hunger Relief Program provides a quick and easy way for our communities to help give hungry children a nutritious meal,” said Rondel Hartwell, Bi-Lo’s director of community involvement and charitable giving.

The local campaign includes Midlands Bi-Lo stores as well as those in Florence and Greenville/Laurens counties. Proceeds from those stores will go to Harvest Hope food bank.

“Bi-Lo has been a great partner for Harvest Hope’s mission for many years and continues to show their commitment to community stewardship through this Summer Backpack Hunger Relief Program,” said Denise Holland, Harvest Hope’s chief executive officer.

It is believed that as many as 1 in 5 children in South Carolina don’t know how they will get their next meal. Throughout July, Harvest Hope has seen up to 400 families seeking hunger relief each day within its 20-county service area.

To make a direct donation to the food bank, visit

Award comes in ‘Nick’ of time

The Nickelodeon Theatre is one of 66 organizations selected by the National Endowment for the Arts to receive an Our Town grant.

The grants total just more than $5 million and cover 38 states. They are awarded to projects that demonstrate excellence in arts.

The Nickelodeon Theatre will receive $50,000 for 2015’s Indie Grits Festival, which will use the funds to support public programming.

“We’re proud that the NEA recognized Indie Grits with this grant,” said Andy Smith, executive director of the Nickelodeon Theatre and co-director of Indie Grits Film Festival. “We aim to highlight the best in independent and experimental film coming out of the Southeast, but also to engage our community and bring the public to Main Street and downtown Columbia through Columbia’s more unique arts and cultural opportunities as part of the festival.”

Since Our Town's inception in 2011, the NEA has awarded 256 Our Town grants of more than $21 million throughout the 50 states and District of Columbia.

Empowering young women

Daybreak Pregnancy Center will hold a free empowerment conference for young women Aug. 1 in Lexington.

The conference, Pure Excitement, seeks to help Midlands middle school and high school girls and mothers make healthy choices, avoid high-risk behaviors and realize their value. Topics will include healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, beauty, worth, self-esteem, boundaries and preventing teen pregnancy. There will be seven speakers, as well as music, dancing, prizes, food and conversation sessions.

The event will run from 2-6 p.m. at The Harvest Church in “The Rock,” 4865 Sunset Blvd., Lexington.

To register online, visit

About Bertram Rantin

Bertram Rantin


Bertram Rantin is The State's metro columnist with a current focus on the inspirational people and community helpers in Columbia, SC, and the Midlands. Rantin has covered a variety of areas during his tenure at the newspaper including local government, schools, sports, features, transportation, volunteerism and non profits. Email Bertram at or call him at (803) 771-8306.

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