Each year, thousands of dollars pour in to the annual Woodyard Fund to help Midlands residents in crisis pay for their energy bills.
Last year, donors contributed more than $120,000, allowing the Salvation Army to provide utility assistance to 481 families.
One donor recently inspired to help was Columbia resident Joseph Kneece.
Having been a regular contributor to the Red Cross and other organizations in the past, Kneece decided to contribute to the Woodyard Fund this year.
“The way I look at it is if I can help people in need, that will benefit me in heaven,” he said.
A retired 20-year military veteran, Kneece said he has seen first hand the need for such a fund in the Midlands.
He was particularly drawn to the Woodyard Fund because donations go directly to help families who are having trouble paying their energy bills and are in danger of having their heat cut off. Many recipients have lost jobs or unemployment benefits and are facing dire situations going into winter.
“(The fund) really assesses the need and the trueness of the need,” Kneece said. “This isn’t a handout. It’s a hand up.”
Kneece says while he believes he was just doing his part by writing a check, he has tried to follow the example his parents set for him.
“They followed the Lord every day of their lives,” he said.
Kneece said his parents believed in putting their faith into action not only by helping those in their family but those in their neighborhood as well.
“They always reached out to others,” he said. “That’s why I believe if you’re blessed, it’s so you can help someone else.”
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.