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Every summer, migrant worker families travel up and down the coast picking vegetables and working odd jobs, barely earning a living wage.'
Many come to Beaufort with their spouse and children in tow -- most of them carrying little more than the clothes on their backs, said Diane Murray, the school nurse for Beaufort County Migrant Education School. '
The school is set up to educate migrant worker's children and is in session for six weeks in the summer from June 6 to July 15, for five days a week, 10 hours a day at St. Helena Elementary School. On Saturday morning, a group of more than 20 volunteers representing several area churches and organizations went to Paragon migrant camp on Storyteller Road to distribute 200 care packages, containing toiletries and clothes to Hispanic and Haitian migrant workers at the camp.'
"This is a way we can showcase the partnership with all the churches and church organizations, with our school and how we attempt to meet the needs, not just of the migrant families we serve at the school, but for the migrant population," Murray said. "Since school started, we've given out over 300 care packages."'
Peggie Darien, state migrant education coordinator with Beaufort County Migrant Education School, has been a volunteer with the program for 29 years. "The program has come a long way from where it was," Darien said. "We want to let them know that we do care." '
Barbara Everett, a volunteer representing St. Helena Episcopal Church Women, said each year her church becomes increasingly involved with assisting migrant workers and their families. "We tell people at monthly meetings to bring soap, shampoo or diapers," Everett said. "So we had a huge stock of supplies and that's part of what was taken out there today."'
The items were collected and split up into individual kits for men, women and children. And clothing was strewn over a fence so that people could pick and choose what they wanted. "It doesn't seem like much, but we do what we can," Everett said. "We hope that every little bit helps."'
Area agencies and churches that contributed volunteers and goods for the effort include the Beaufort Migrant Education program, Christian Outreach Ministries, Savannah River Baptist Church, St. Helena Episcopal Church women's group, Beaufort Aglow, Ronald McDonald care mobile and the fifth grade class at Broad River Elementary School. It was the last round of care packages given out by the group until next season. "People think that migrants in the community take jobs, but the migrants in this area give back to the community," Murray said. "They go to the stores, they buy from our merchants, and they are also providing a service to this community that no one else would want to do." '