Johnne Bennett, a single mother of five, got an eviction notice after a dispute, leaving her less than a month to find a new place for her family to live.
With the assistance of friends and a Go Fund Me page, Bennett was able to move. But, short on funds, she was unable to pay the costs associated with getting the heat turned on in the home. That’s when she sat down to write a letter to the White House. And she was thrilled to get a response.
“With everything going on I felt lost,” said Bennett. “I felt like everything was coming down on me. But getting a response from [the White House] was like a breath of fresh air. It felt like there’s still hope; don’t give up.”
The White House notes, Bennett said, came with suggestions of where to call for help, including one for the Salvation Army. Bennett was connected with the Woodyard Fund, where she was able to get a month’s supply of propane to heat her home. But just when Bennett was under the impression that things were getting better, she lost her job.
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And again, she said, “Ethel Moore [her Salvation Army case manager] called me and said she was able to get me help.”
The Woodyard Fund helps residents in crisis in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry counties pay for utilities. The fund dates to 1816, when the Ladies Benevolent Society provided firewood and coal to families in need. In 1930, The State newspaper’s editor, William E. Gonzales, began publicizing the fund. It became a tradition the newspaper continues every winter.
The fund usually runs from late November through mid-March, when temperatures generally are the coldest.
“I feel like my life is no longer crumbling. There are actual people out there who are willing to help,” Bennett said. “It doesn’t feel like the end of the world. All this horrible stuff has happened but there’s still good that’s going to come to my life. It’s not over. It’s going to get better.”
How to give help: Donations can be mailed to the Woodyard Fund, c/o The Salvation Army of the Midlands, P.O. Box 2786, Columbia, SC 29202. Make checks payable to the Woodyard Fund. All donations are tax-deductible.
How to get help: Area residents who need assistance with heating bills can call (803) 462-5093 for more information or to make an appointment for assistance.
Donations to date
Week of Nov. 28
John A. Cloyd and Mary Lou Cloyd, $250, in memory of Doris A. and Joseph Cloyd; The Lillie Love Sunday School Class of Grace Nazarene Church, $100, in memory of Majors Richard and Christine Jones; Mrs. Jean R. Bridges, $100, in memory of Mrs. Margaret Rinehardt; Anonymous, $1,000; Forest Lake Presbyterian Church, $1,000; James Y. Campbell Jr., $1,000; Terreni Law Firm, LLC, $100; Duane C. and Ruth R. Yoch, $100; Nancy and Jim Poston, $100, in memory of Fred Farmer; Wade F. Fisher, $400; Anonymous, $100, in memory of Allen Gantt Folling Jr.; Debra and Tom Holloway, $100, in memory of Linda and Mike Holland; Anonymous, $1,000; Joe E. Taylor, Jr., $1,000; Lucille P. Mould, $75, in memory of Mrs. Genevieve A. Mould; Judy S. Pearce, $25; Florence Bowers and Clara J. Slice, $50; Steven B. and Melissa S. Meadows, $100; Trannie C. Abboushi, $200, in memory of Dorothy P. Cobb; Thomas B. and Lucy Edmunds, $500; Terence A. and Judith K. Shimp, $250; Marynell and Oscar Wooten Jr., $100, in memory of Kendall Marie Wooten; John D. and Carolyn M. McCrea, $100
Weekly total: $7,750