Dozens of people received food and clothing at a donation event hosted by the Orangeburg Community Action Group on Thursday, Dec. 21.

Organizers said the event would help people in need and foster better relationships between community organizations.

The event, titled “A Call to Serve,” was held at the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety lobby at 1320 Middleton Street.

Event organizer Betty Robinson, ODPS community liaison and pastor at Restoration and Redemption Ministries in Orangeburg, said she wanted to put together the giveaway to help a growing number of people who need help.

“All I knew is there was an urgency at the time and we wanted to see what we can do,” Robinson said. “We can’t help everybody but whoever we can help, we will do that.”

Dozens of men, women and children lined up at the doors of ODPS headquarters before the giveaway began. Over 50 had entered within an hour of the doors opening. The lobby was crowded with those coming to pick up the free items, as well as ODPS officers and volunteers from partner organizations.

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The donation table included blankets, coats, sweaters, scarves, gloves, hats, shoes, adult and children’s clothes, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, loaves of bread and sweet potatoes. A hot meal of rice, chicken and canned drinks was also offered.

ODPS collaborated with state and local organizations for the giveaway, including statewide non-profit Serve and Connect, Restoration and Redemption Ministries and Helping Hands of Orangeburg, City of Orangeburg spokesperson Jennifer Van Cleave said.

ODPS Chief Charles Austin said the event was a way for the agency to build goodwill with the community and show residents ODPS is concerned with the overall wellbeing and needs of residents along with law enforcement.

Austin helped serve hot food to those attending the giveaway.

Volunteers at the event included new ODPS recruits, volunteers from churches, Serve and Connect and the Orangeburg Community Action Group, Robinson said.

“We invite all persons who have an interest in being of service to others, no matter where they come from,” Austin said. “We’re all here to serve and the more of us come together and contribute our gifts as a part of serving, the more people we’ll impact and the better our community will be.”

Robinson reached out to local grocery stores, restaurants and businesses for donations. Walmart, Tasty Wings and Seafood, KFC and Mr. Hibachi were some of the biggest donors, she said.

Some of the items were left over from another giveaway event the city hosted on Tuesday, Dec. 21, Van Cleave said.

“We always like to reach out to the community, especially at this time of year, because we know we have residents who are less fortunate than many of us and we want to help those that we can and let them know that we’re here,” Van Cleave said. “We’re part of the community, so we want to work with our other partners and do what we can for the residents.”

Robinson planned on boxing up anything left to distribute in the community for anyone who might not have known about the giveaway, she said.

She hopes the giveaway will continue and grow in the future.

The group will be reaching out to other churches, agencies and businesses to see how they can help, she said.

The flyers that were distributed to promote the event included contact information so people in need can reach out to relevant agencies for future needs, she said.

Any donations are helpful, but warm clothes are especially needed during cold weather and can always be dropped off at ODPS, she said.

“I honestly wish these types of things were done year round,” Austin said. “I applaud those persons who do them during the holidays and encourage us to continue that, but I also believe we need to recognize that there are needs year round for some folk and we need to figure out ways to continue these partnerships to address those needs.”

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5553. Follow on Twitter: @bozardcaleb.

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