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Columbia Urban League gives holiday meals to 300 families

The annual Beatrice McKnight Christmas Giving Program aims to reduce food insecurity in the Midlands.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Tuesday, the Columbia Urban League spread holiday cheer through their annual Beatrice McKnight Christmas Giving Program. 

At the Richland County Sheriff's Department Annex, dozens of volunteers assembled boxes of food and gift cards to be distributed to 300 low-income families and elderly residents. 

The League is also distributing 150 food-filled backpacks to youth in foster care and low-income housing. 

“Many of the kids we work with, disadvantaged kids, depend on free meals at school. And so during weekends and the holiday time, a lot of young people don’t have access to a nutritional type meal. We’re just very grateful that Walmart provided all these backpacks," said CUL President and CEO James T. McLawhorn. 

Several Walmart volunteers were in attendance to help out. “It makes our heart warming to know that we’re giving back to the community and we’re helping the Columbia community," said Andrew, a Walmart volunteer.

McLawhorn stressed that this distribution wouldn't be possible without the many volunteers. 

“Our staff’s been here, working ever since 7 a.m. this morning. Our staff worked all last night trying to bring the packages together," said McLawhorn. 

For the first time ever, families will also receive gift cards to purchase groceries. McLawhorn said that's because some grocery items weren't available due to supply chain issues. 

McLawhorn said there’s a greater need for its annual program because of the hardships many have faced during the pandemic.

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According to National Health Rankings, South Carolina ranks 21st in the nation for food insecurity. 

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