East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) continues to serve the community by providing basic needs, health services, and empowerment, as they’ve done since 1989, even as they tackle obstacles borne of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Considered a one-stop resource for families looking to recover from financial distress with food, medical care, dental care, financial assistance, prescription assistance, and more, ECCO did have to make some adjustments to how they lend a helping hand.
Because of COVID-19, ECCO was forced to temporarily close the free clothing service, “Clothing Closet,” that allows hundreds of neighbors to access clothing, shoes, bedding and more each month. “A lot of different things changed. We had to pivot to be super flexible,” said Stephanie Kelley, the nonprofit’s executive director.
During COVID-19, the organization has been asking the community to donate an increased amount of food and supplies such as peanut butter and jelly, canned soup, canned pasta, dry pasta, personal hygiene products, dish soap, and laundry detergent.
ECCO distributed 1,144 pre-packaged food orders to 752 local families in need in May 2020 — a sharp increase from May 2019, where the nonprofit served 354 families. With operations shifting in an attempt to meet the ever-increasing needs of the local community during the pandemic, the logistics of ECCO’s operation have shifted as well.
“The space that Clothing Closet formerly occupied has been transformed into a receiving area for food donations; tables are set up to sanitize all food donations before being stocked on the Wellness Pantry shelves,” announced the group in June.
The previous area where all donated clothing was accepted and sorted became a staging area for the assembly and distribution of prepacked food bags and hygiene kits.
Funding is important to any organization, noted Kelly, who expressed confidence in the local community’s continued support of the nonprofit.
“We have been really blessed throughout [pandemic.] The community really responded, really stepped up for us to keep on budget,” she said.
Twenty percent of the charity’s yearly funds are generated from two annual events, a golf tournament and a gala. While the 2020 gala was cancelled, the eighth annual East Cooper Community Outreach 2020 Charity Golf Tournament has been rescheduled for Aug. 31 at the Daniel Island Club.
“Anyone who can donate is a big help to us,” she said.
Donations can be dropped off at the Mount Pleasant location at 1145 6 Mile Road from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Financial donations can be made online at eccocharleston.org.