Richland County Sheriff’s Department Partners with Harvest Hope and St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church to Meet Community Needs
When a local church joined forces with Harvest Hope Food Bank to collect meals and other items for those in need in the Columbia area, they wanted to be sure to find those who were struggling most. They turned to some of the people who know the area best: the men and women of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
“We’re partnered with communities all across Richland County,” said Lt. Danny Brown of the department’s Community Action Team. “Our guys and gals on the team are very familiar with the neighborhoods, the communities, and the particular individuals in those communities that need help.”
The Community Action Team gathered Monday at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church on Broad River Road, where the congregation provided enough money and food for Harvest Hope to put together 80 boxes of non-perishable food, each containing enough for 21 meals.
Brown said he and the other members of the Community Action Team spend time in parts of the county which are often neglected, and in which people are reluctant to ask for help.
“There are large family groups in small homes and not a lot of running water or food items,” Brown said. “We take a lot of pride in taking care of those communities.”
In addition to the food, the St. Andrew’s congregation collected more than a dozen boxes of books. Brown said those can also make a huge impact on underserved communities.
“You see the kids out wandering around with nothing really to do. When you’re on patrol, you don’t see any libraries really close to some of these communities,” he said. “When you see the kids getting the books and running back to their houses wanting to read them, it’s pretty exciting.”
Brown said the books can also be a tool in preventing crime and other problems. “Kids love stories,” he said. “If they can read, and you can give them something to take home so they can sit in the evenings and read a book and imagine that story in their mind, it makes a huge difference.”
It might surprise some to see deputies wearing badges and carrying guns, but delivering food and books. Brown said it’s all in a day’s work in a job that requires many different skills.
“The deputies have to be very versatile in what they do,” he said. “Early in the morning we could be out kicking in doors on drug houses. In the afternoon we could be working prostitution stings. In the evenings, we’re going to community meetings to find out what the needs of those communities are.”
Church members helped deputies load the donated items into patrol cars, thanking them and expressing happiness at knowing the gifts would go to those who need them most.