For Midlands residents, the winter months mean turning the thermostat up and turning on the lights in the house earlier, causing power bills to suddenly rise.
Thankfully for some, the Woodyard Fund can help ease the worries that come with a higher bill.
“I had heard about it before,” Midlands resident Celena Rice said. “Last week I was looking in the newspaper and I knew it was something that helped people, so I decided to call the number.”
Rice, a single mother of one, was surprised at how quick and easy the application process was. “I called and immediately the next day they called back and I was so glad, I didn’t know what to do.”
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The good news kept coming for her, when a few days after her appointment she was able to find a job. “I’ve always said there are so many agencies that really do give help,” Rice said. “I see that it’s true that they really do go out there and help.”
The 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 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.
The fund, which generally runs from late November to mid-March, helps pay energy bills for Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry County residents in crisis situations. Help is needed each year for those who struggle because of job loss or other financial strains.
“I’m very appreciative for what they do,” Rice said. “I will donate to the Woodyard Fund and I will tell the people who need help about the good experience I had.”