Gary Bingham is humbly helping those in need in the name of his 23-year-old son, Tyler, by giving away six tractor-trailer loads of school supplies.
“I have a desire to give back to the community,” Bingham said.
Last week, Bingham and his crew of volunteers helped give away boxes of school supplies to families in need in the area, but this Wednesday and Thursday from 4 – 8 p.m. at Inlet Square Mall, he plans to let area teachers come and take what they need from the rest of the school supplies, for free.
“We have enough to supply 1,000 teachers,” he said, noting they have everything a classroom would ever need, including masks and sanitizer, art supplies, paper, notebooks, binders, desk accessories, and more.
Bingham moved to Horry County in 1994, and opened Bargain Warehouse in 1998. His son Tyler passed away from an overdose in 2016, but also had a heart for giving.
"He would give you the shirt off his back," Bingham said.
The giveaway will not be a drive-through event like the family portion of it was, but it will be inside the former K-Mart location at the north end of Inlet Square Mall. Coming off of 17 Bypass, the giveaway will be on the opposite side of Belk, Bingham said.
“There will be arrows and signs that tell you where to come in, there is plenty to go around,” he said. “They get to come inside and build their own boxes. They can pick through the stock and take whatever they need for their classrooms.”
Because of the pandemic, he said they had an abundance of school supplies and they were able to do a giveaway near Easter when no one could really go out and buy anything.
“I just kept trying to figure out what to do next,” Bingham said, saying he bought six, 53-foot tractor trailer trucks full of supplies to give away.
He said he wanted to help the kids who may not even have anything, and even though he knew that the state and other entities were giving out supplies, he wanted to try to “fill the gap.”
“So no kids are left behind without supplies. It shouldn’t happen,” Bingham said.
During his initial giveaway to families this past weekend, they gave out 4,000 boxes of supplies, with the help of 60 volunteers. From their calculations, there was at least $50-$100 worth of supplies in each box.
Now he wants to extend the giveaway to the educators as well. He said he knows while many educators will use what they get for their own classrooms, he realizes educators know families in need may be obtaining supplies for those families, and that is okay with him, too.
“These things start with my heart’s desire, then I say, ‘Okay, I’m going to post it on my Facebook page,’ and then it spreads like wildfire. I’m always worried – not about how I’m going to do it, but will people find out about it,” Bingham said, saying he isn’t big on media attention.
Bingham said Tyler always wanted to give back and had many ideas about how to do so.
“As he was struggling, he came up with a concept of wanting to start a sock business, and give away socks. We were working on that right before he died,” Bingham said. “He was a good, good person.”
To be admitted to the giveaway, teachers must have their teacher identification, including homeschool credentials if applicable. Bingham said that masks and gloves will be available at the entrance to keep everyone as safe as possible.