With chillier temperatures creeping up on the Midlands, Wade Fisher dreads the thought of any family being cold this winter.
The Lexington County resident has supported the Woodyard Fund the past 10 years. The fund helps pay energy bills for residents of Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry counties who are in crisis situations.
“Just helping those people, from what I read in the paper and how the fund helps them, is why I decided to donate in the first place,” Fisher said. “It makes me feel real good to know that I am helping and I wish I could do more.”
Officials with the Salvation Army, which administers the fund, expect the needs to be significant again this year as many continue to struggle with financial hardship. And donors like Fisher are crucial to helping to meet those needs, they say.
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This year’s fund was launched the week after Thanksgiving and generated $12,775 in donations the first week.
Richland County resident Judy Pearce has been contributing to the fund for several years.
“Of course it makes me feel good. I like to help people and I contribute to a lot of local charities,” Pearce said.
The Woodward Fund traces its origins to 1816, when the Ladies Benevolent Society provided firewood, and later coal, to families in need. The society turned management of the charity over to the Salvation Army around the turn of the 20th century.
In 1930, William E. Gonzales, then editor of The State newspaper, began publicizing the fund and those it helped, a tradition the newspaper continues each winter.
Through the fund, eligible households get vouchers redeemable at businesses that provide heating services. The Salvation Army reimburses the businesses for the voucher amounts. Each applicant is screened to verify need and to ensure that no other resources are available.
The Woodyard Fund usually runs from late November through mid-March.