Pittsburgh (May 6, 2020) – South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) has announced that its annual Sack Hunger, Pack Hope campaign — modified this year to be a monthlong, high-urgency initiative held in March — raised a record-breaking $110,000 to help fight local hunger. Dubbed this year as March to Sack Hunger, Pack Hope, the campaign well exceeded expectations after seeing a rise in donations following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we started this campaign at the beginning of March, we had no idea how our communities and lives would be upended in just a matter of weeks,” said Jim Guffey, executive director of SHIM. “Our region has been facing hunger and other issues for a long time, and this crisis has only made things harder for people who were already in need. It’s also put thousands more of our neighbors in a position where they’re struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet for the first time.”
In 2019, SHIM’s three food pantries — located at SHIM Center in Bethel Park, Prospect Park in Whitehall, and Baldwin United Presbyterian Church — provided more than 501,000 pounds of food for more than 3,500 people in the South Hills. That need has only grown in 2020 and especially in the wake of COVID-19. In March alone, SHIM saw a 21% year-over-year increase in households seeking help with basic needs like food and financial assistance.
To enable the public to safely support March to Sack Hunger, Pack Hope during the pandemic, SHIM encouraged online donations instead of food drives, which have been essential to prior campaigns. The result was a 97% increase in contributions through SHIM’s website compared to 2019.
“SHIM has never seen numbers like these before,” added Guffey. “We were receiving donations before the pandemic, but then they really took off. This overwhelming generosity from the community will ensure that thousands of our neighbors in need won’t go to bed hungry. We couldn’t be more grateful to them for stepping up to help those who need assistance.”
The donations allow SHIM’s pantries to continue serving the community as this crisis lingers. While shop-through pantries are still suspended, pre-packaged boxes of food are being provided weekly, as well as at drive-through distributions at SHIM’s Bethel Park location. To ensure safety, volunteers are adhering to social distancing, wearing gloves and masks at all times, and sanitizing all surfaces.
“We’re making progress in this fight, but we still have a long way to go,” said Guffey. “As SHIM works to adapt to ever-changing and ever-growing needs, we continue to rely on our community’s generosity to help vulnerable individuals and families get back on their feet.”
“SHIM was here for our community before this crisis, and we’ll be here long after it’s over,” he added. “As long as there is need in our community, we’re not going anywhere.”
Those who want to make a monetary donation to support SHIM’s work can do so at shimcares.org/give.
More information about SHIM’s essential services during the pandemic, including its pantries, can be found at shimcares.org/covid-19-resources. Anyone in need of urgent assistance can contact SHIM’s main office at (412) 854-9120 and select the extension for the appropriate staff person.
About South Hills Interfaith Movement – SHIM is a human services organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in need across the South Hills. This includes working to reduce the devastating effects of suburban poverty among low-income workers, the unemployed, families, single parents, senior citizens, women, and the high concentration of refugee families in its service area. SHIM works to identify the most critical needs across the South Hills, then develops and implements effective solutions. SHIM aims to empower individuals and families to achieve stability and self-sufficiency by offering short-term help with basic needs (food, clothing, utilities) and longer-term support (employment, financial planning, youth programs, family support) to help people build and sustain promising futures.
For more information, please contact: