In Myrtle Beach, More Than 200 Homeless Children and Families Will Be Given 'A Day Of Hope'

"They might not remember what was in their backpacks… but they are gonna remember how they felt when they left."

For homeless children and their families in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, August 12, 2017 won't be an ordinary day. It'll be "A Day of Hope."


Sheila Karsevar

For the third year in a row, Sheila Karsevar is the driving force uniting the Horry County community to provide free school and household supplies, haircuts, dental screenings, and shoes to more than 200 homeless children in less than 24 hours. From10 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m., preregistered families will stream through the Claire Chappin Epps YMCA gym to not only receive all these services, but more importantly, the love and support of their community. 

The idea for the first A Day of Hope came to Karsevar after watching a documentary featuring Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries, a "Christian-based" nonprofit organization. "Her group was going to different inner cities, and they were helping the homeless... providing them with school supplies and haircuts," she told A Plus. "...And I just started sobbing. I couldn't stop crying." A devout Christian, she prayed to God for guidance and felt an idea "impressed upon her" called "A Day of Hope." 

"It's not like I heard a booming voice, or it's not like he sat next to me and spoke to me," she explained. "It was just all this information, that's all I can say." 

Likening her experience to seeing "a big picture," she knew exactly when A Day of Hope would take place — August 15, 2015 — and felt compelled to make it a reality.

Sheila Karsevar

After sharing the idea with her husband and business partner, Norm, and gaining his support, she began to plan the event over the next several months. Though she "had no idea" where to begin, nearly every day, she came into contact with person after person who wanted to help her. "I would just feel this urge, 'I gotta tell them, I gotta mention A Day of Hope,'" she said. "And every time I did, the person... would say, 'Oh my gosh, I'm in. I want to do this with you.'" One woman she met was instrumental in handling the medical elements of the day, enabling Karsevar to offer free dental screenings. 

That first year, information about the event spread by word of mouth so quickly that Karsevar was joined by about 200 other volunteers serving 232 children. Since then, the event has grown both in its number of volunteers and donations. At the first Day of Hope, eight local hairstylists "were crazy busy all day long" giving free haircuts with "a line across the gym" of waiting children. The next year, luckily, that number more than doubled to about 20. She expects the same amount this year. Local firefighters also came to help, and then were joined by police officers in 2016. Now, even more members of both departments plan to attend this year. 

Karsevar has also received donations from multiple organizations, such as Catholic Charities which offered to help her with preregistration, Arizona Iced Tea which donated bags for family household supplies, and PODS who provided two storage containers to house them all. 

Notably, A Day of Hope will also provide new shoes to children for the first time this year through Samaritan's Feet of Charlotte, North Carolina. To reach this additional goal, Karsevar aims to raise an additional $5,000 on top of her initial goal of $10,000 to provide 500 students with new backpacks full of supplies (each backpack costs $20) through the event's GoFundMe page

Sheila Karsevar

Though she hopes the fundraiser reaches this year's goal, that isn't nearly as important to Karsevar as the single-word message that fuels her work: hope. That's what she really wants every child to leave with at the end of the day.

"They might not remember what was in their backpacks. They might not remember what kind of haircut they got. But they are gonna remember how they felt when they left..." she said. "It's not about me; it's not about the community providing these things. It's about them having hope..."  

As an integral part of a community working together to provide just that, she feels lucky when — after months and months of planning — she gets to witness it firsthand. Though some families, especially the new ones, "don't know what to expect" and may "feel kind of awkward," all the volunteers "make them feel so at home and... comfortable and so loved and just welcome," according to Karsevar. Not only are the children "overwhelmed" by this outpouring of kindness, but their parents, too. "They always leave with smiles on their faces and hope in their heart," she added. "They just are so appreciative, and it is really a day of hope." 

Sheila Karsevar 

Karsevar hopes to continue her work with A Day of Hope for "as long as it's supposed to" with the eventual hope that it turns into something even bigger. While the number of homeless people "counted in Horry County" has decreased from 840 in 2013 to 735 in 2016, that number is still far too many for Karsevar who eventually hopes to not only help "three times the amount of kids we're helping now," but also would love nothing nothing more than for it to spread from community to community and state to state. "We could just make such a huge difference all across the country," she said. 

She also envisions what she calls "a community of hope," a safe, transitional place on a "big farm" with renovated apartments where homeless families could live for a year or two, however long it takes to help them get back on their feet. Fueled by the "teach a man to fish" ethos, she would love to teach families how to grow their own food, sell their own produce, and other skills in adult education classes. "If something like that could come out of this, it would just be amazing," she said. No matter what happens, Karsevar has already proven anything is possible. 


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