AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – We’re just 7 days from Thanksgiving Day, and to get people in the spirit USC Aiken hosted their 11th annual One Table Event.

“It’s something that is good for everybody, and kinda makes you feel warm, especially around the holiday season. It’s nice that everybody is coming together for the greater good,” said senior Aisha Griffin.

Students and faculty get enjoy their turkey and pumpkin pie, along with a conversation at the long table.

But this year the event also got to focus on homelessness: a growing issue in Aiken County.

“We have so many neighbors in need. So, taking this opportunity to give thanks for the things we have, but also to support some of the organizations like Family Promise is really special,” said Family Promise Board Chair Kendall Buchanan.

Those attending were able to help organizations like Family Promise by donating clothing, food, blankets, and hygiene products for those in need.

Board Chair Kendall Buchanan says the help is crucial this time of year, and the numbers are stunning.

“1 in 5 in South Carolina that are receiving homeless services is a child. Many people don’t think of children when they think of homelessness, so having an opportunity to talk about that with students, faculty and staff at USC Aiken–and share with the community at large–just really shines a light on the challenges we’re facing,” said Buchanan.

In 2022, more than 1,000 individuals received services through the Salvation Army in Aiken County–300 students in Aiken County Public Schools identified as homeless.

Students like Griffin say extending a helping hand reminds them of what Thanksgiving is all about.

“I think it’s something that is getting everybody’s minds like ‘Oh I have something to be thankful for.’ Once you start buying donations, it’s things that we regularly use that they don’t have. So it kind of puts that in your mind that I should be more grateful for the things I have because it can get taken away so easily,” said Griffin.

Buchanan says organizations like Family Promise rely on local support.

Whether it’s volunteering, financial support or donations of any kind, she says any kind of help goes a long way, as they work to support homeless people and families across the county.

To find more information about Family Promise of Aiken County, you can visit their website here.

To find more information about the Aiken County Homeless Coalition, you can find them here.