Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Inc. (LOR) began when founder Lynn Young was serving as a guardian ad litem, speaking in the court system for the rights of children. As Lynn listened to the stories of these young children, who faced removal from the only homes they knew with little more than the clothes on their backs, she began to formulate an idea as to how these children could reclaim dignity and find encouragement.
Lynn witnessed the tremendous needs of abused, neglected or abandoned children in the greater metropolitan area of Charleston. Their immediate need was luggage to carry their few belongings. They also needed clothing, coats, socks, shoes, underwear, school supplies and toiletries. The court system took weeks to process children; during that time, they had to make do with whatever clothing and personal items they had when they left their homes. In many cases, children left in emergency circumstances and had no opportunity to bring personal belongings. Try to imagine a child going to school in these circumstances. Children were forced to deal with not only the emotional turmoil of their situation, but also the physical challenges of little clothing and few belongings that could provide comfort.
Lynn began persuading her friends to collect and donate life’s necessities for these children. Friends left critical items in bags on Lynn’s front porch for her to distribute. The idea grew. More people brought clothing, and Lynn had to rent a storage locker.
Lynn secured initial start-up funds in 2003 from the Foster and Lynn Friess Foundation so that she could begin to expand beyond the storage locker and help growing numbers of children. Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Inc. then made a request for support to the Charleston Leadership Foundation (CLF). CLF immediately agreed that its board and supporters would provide guidance for the newly named Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Inc.
On November 8, 2007, LOR achieved designation as a stand-alone 501(c)(3) and has served the children of the Lowcountry area since. LOR has four full-time paid staff members. Many local churches, companies and volunteers support the efforts of LOR. The organization owns both The Lowcountry Orphan Relief Distribution Center storage facility and staff offices, located in the old Navy Yard. In 2016, 76 percent of all donations directly paid for children’s needs. LOR also renovates and furnishes rooms to serve as libraries at shelters and at homes for abused, abandoned and neglected children.
LOR currently serves more than 100 agencies, including the Department of Social Services, all local group homes, foster parents, the Disabilities Board of Charleston, local schools and many other children in need. LOR serves children in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties thanks to the purchase of “LORI,” a box truck that allows visits beyond of the organization’s base in Charleston.
All money donated to the relief fund is used according to the vision and mission of LOR. Monetary donations provide for children’s life necessities as well as funding “Make a Child Happy Day” and “Beach Day” for children living in foster care or in group homes. Thanks to supporters and volunteers, when the children served by LOR go to school, neither their clothing nor hygiene calls attention to the turbulence with which they contend after school hours. LOR works to make incredibly trying circumstances easier for children by providing a sense of security and normalcy. Lowcountry Orphan Relief believes that all children deserve to be nurtured, loved and protected.