More than one half dozen blackstone griddles will be fired up by volunteers from area nonprofits this weekend for the first ever free-will donation pancake breakfast from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday on the Hope town Square with all proceeds benefitting the Student's Fund of Hope and the Community Center of Hope.

Whitney Budd, president of the Student's Fund of Hope, says this event was made possible via a true blessing.

Recently, Budd was approached by Jim Young, volunteer fire chief with the Hartsville Volunteer Fire Department, who happened to come into possession of literally thousands of pounds of pancake mix.

“It was pretty awesome, so he donated that to us,” Budd says. “We thought we would do a free-will donation that way even if people can’t pay for something they can still come out and grab a good breakfast.”

As a mother of four small children, Budd says she can relate to the frustration of finding easy, quick options for breakfast out on weekends.

“So I thought, ‘How easy would it be if we could just load the kids up with their pajamas and just run through a pancake breakfast?”” she says. “It is easy for the community and it is something where they can help two different nonprofits, so we can continue to serve so many people in our town.”

Although the pandemic forced most fundraising opportunities to a grinding halt last year, Budd says the Student's Fund of Hope and Community Center of Hope didn’t suffer too much of a loss. Creativity helped cushion the sudden drop in opportunities as the nonprofits were still able to raise funds through events, such as a T-shirt fundraiser, and tremendous community support.

“Luckily, our community continued to rally around us and around the people who needed help,” Budd says.

One way in which the organizations continued to support the community was with the placement of Blessing Boxes in Hartsville and at the Hope Moravian Church, Budd says. The boxes, which have proven invaluable to so many, contain nonperishable food items, as well as hygiene and cleaning products.

“We fill them up a couple of times a week and community members can also fill them up,” Budd says. “Anyone can grab anything they need or take what they want to give. It has been way more successful than what we thought it would be and it’s obvious that it is being used because we will fill it up and in a couple of hours it is gone.”

Budd says seeing how successful the boxes have been has in itself been a blessing, just to see the difference it is making in the lives of area residents.

Jeff Yarnell, Student's Fund of Hope board member, says he is hopeful that this fundraiser leads to the return of more events moving forward.

“Hopefully it stays this way,” he says. “We have several fundraisers in a year’s time that we do for the Student Fund, like a movie night on the Square. We are hoping to get back on track.”

All proceeds from Saturday’s breakfast will be split equally between the Student's Fund of Hope and the Community Center of Hope, Yarnell says.

Organizers will set up on the Square and, if the weather proves to be sketchy, Yarnell says the event move to the shelter house.

“People will be able to walk in one entrance and exit another,” he says. “We will definitely have it setup so everything is conveniently placed making for an easy walk through.”

Both Budd and Yarnell are partial to their pancakes and they say they will definitely be found behind a griddle that morning.

“Any event we are at you will always find me there,” Budd says. “All of our board members will be there.”

Yarnell says he put out a callout early on and has already had nearly one dozen volunteers offer up their griddles and help for that morning.

“I’ve eight or nine people coming with some blackstone griddles,” he says. “So we should have no problem keeping up with demand.”

When asked about the importance of this event to the nonprofits, Budd says the importance can’t be understated.

“Events like this, especially to small nonprofits like us, this is huge that it’s successful,” she says. “If we want to continue to help the children in our community, provide the services that we do and have the resources we have, we have to have people come out to events like this so we can continue to raise the revenue to do things like that.”