Flood Damage Update:
It’s been a hectic two weeks for us here at South County Outreach. On Monday, August 13, we had an incredible Back to School event for our families which had been in the works for months. Thanks to donors, sponsors, and volunteers, hundreds of kids and teens are starting out the school year with a backpack full of supplies, a brand new pair of shoes, and a fresh haircut. (Check out the photos here!)
We ended the Back to School event feeling invigorated and grateful for our neighbors. Then, late Tuesday night, a water pipe burst, resulting in a flood which left our food pantry, computer lab, and downstairs offices ruined from water damage. When our team arrived Wednesday morning, they were shocked to discover over three inches of water on the first floor. We spent the better half of the day just doing what we could to get the water out- from mops to brooms, we swept as much out of the food pantry as we could.
Once we realized the severity of the damage – that we would most likely be completely taking apart our food pantry and computer lab – we quickly shifted gears to preserving the perishable foods that would otherwise be lost. Food pantries across Orange County came to our aid, picking up over four thousand pounds of perishable foods in an effort to avoid wasting what was in our 11 commercial freezers and refrigerators.
We then set to clearing out the computer learning lab. After realizing that all of our cords and cables had been submerged in the water leak, including the chargers to our 8 laptops donated by the Sage Foundation, we sent them off to investigate whether the computers and cords will need to be replaced from damage. Our computer learning lab is a place where the underemployed and unemployed come to improve their computer skills, and is a haven for our clients who would otherwise be unable to send in job applications, print resumes, or develop necessary knowledge of programs like Word and Excel.
From here, we were forced to close our food pantry doors for a week while restoration workers brought in dozens of fans to dry out the moisture and remaining water. During this time, we discovered further damage in the drywall, bathrooms, and closets. We are unable to receive estimates on the cost of repairs until the full extent of damage has been found and the water completely dried out.
In an effort to continue serving our hungry families, and in huge part to the support and monetary donations we’ve received from so many of YOU, we reopened our food pantry on Wednesday, August 22 with limited distribution. This meant that while we were unable to provide Client’s Choice shopping (which would allow our clients to select what they need similar to regular grocery shopping), we were able to distribute pre-packaged boxes of food with the help of amazing volunteers. We have also begun purchasing daily perishable goods from our partner, Grocery Outlet of Lake Forest, with the donations we’ve received. In this way, our clients can at least leave our doors with a jug of milk, a selection of vegetables, and bag of apples in addition to the nonperishable foods we’re able to provide.
In the midst of this, we’ve seen a truly remarkable outpouring of support from our local community and beyond. From the moment we shared with our friends and partners, they’ve done everything they can to help. In the two days since we published the damage, we’ve received more than $25,000.00 in monetary donations. This includes donations from local faith organizations, businesses, and individuals who have generously stepped up in our time of need. One of our donors, Robin, saw our campaign on Facebook and drove to our offices to personally deliver a cash donation. Robin said she and her children had been saving funds for the Jewish tradition of Tzedakah, and they knew South County Outreach was where they wanted their charitable coins donated.
However, we’re a long way from normal. The restorations will likely take several weeks to complete, and without our refrigerators and freezers to store perishable food donations, we will be relying on monetary donations in order to continue buying daily perishable goods for our clients.
We are surrounded by a community of businesses, families, and individuals who know how important our work is at South County Outreach. Our fight to end hunger and homelessness isn’t over. We’re in good spirits.
Please Donate today.