One Columbia mother who has fought her way through a tough year received a blessing thanks to the Salvation Army.
Athena Pastures’ string of bad luck started a little more than a year ago, when she underwent a series of surgeries. She came down with several infections and went on an extended medical leave from her job.
In March, her father fell down in his home and was found four days later. He had gone into diabetic shock and was admitted into a skilled nursing facility, according to Pastures. He passed away in June, when she was still dealing with her own illness.
Pastures, a mother of 7-year-old twin boys, lost her car in June, and then she found out in July she had lost her job.
“It was just a really, really rough year,” she said.
During this time, she took in a 16-year-old whose mother moved to another state. Pastures said she wanted the girl to finish school, though her mother did not help financially.
After the Oct. 4 floods, she took in a family for a short time who was experiencing homelessness. For a moment, there were seven people and two dogs living in her apartment.
“As long as I’m not hurting myself and I can help you, I’m going to help you,” she said. “We were struggling with food, but we still managed.”
These and other challenges – including her search for new Section 8 housing – meant bills started piling up, and she was only receiving disability pay.
“It’s not that I don’t want to work,” she said. “... I worked for years. I haven’t been without a job for years.”
Pastures said employees at her children’s school referred her to the Salvation Army. When she heard from the nonprofit organization the next day, she finally heard some good news.
“I dropped down to my knees and thanked the Lord, because it would not have been possible (to pay the bills),” she said. “Literally, I did not know if when I woke up the next day, after my kids got on the bus, if I was going to have lights on when they come home.”
The Salvation Army’s Woodyard Fund paid her light bill, and it also will pay for a security deposit when she finds a place to move.
The Woodyard Fund helps residents in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry counties pay for utilities after experiencing unemployment, reduced work hours, unexpected financial crises and limited income.
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 has been a tradition the newspaper continues every winter.
Pastures encouraged people to give what they can to the Woodyard Fund, as there are many people in need.
“Just the smallest amount of help would change somebody’s situation,” she said.
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.
Through Dec. 11
Nancy Truluck, $100, in honor of grandson Wallace Truluck; the Rev. and Mrs. J. Hilton Roof, $100, in memory of our parents; Fankie Harbuck, $25, in honor of Mary Lee Beatty; Willam and Mary Wash, $100; Terence and Judith Shimp, $200; Anonymous, $350; Raymond and Julianne Hendrix Jr, $500; Andrew and Katheleen Kustin, $30; Lee and Louise Andrews, $500; Strickland & Keels, P.A., $100; J. Stanley and Elaine Frick, $40; Fay Folline, $100, in memory of Allen Gantt Folline Jr.; Stewart and Roberta Young, $100; Charles Gardner, $50; Eleanor Pope, $100; Willam and Betty Bythe, $50; Bethel United Methodist Church Joy Sunday School Class, $50; Helen Silver, $100; E. Douglas Franklin, $100; Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Mack, $50; Anonymous, $50; Thomas Gregory, $200; Kent and Georgia Metz, $100; David and Dianne Meadow, $500; Richard and Cicely Jenkins Jr., $100 in memory of Kendall Marie Wooten; David Hubbard, $50, in memory of Anne G. Hubbard; Roxanne Poole, $200; Lester Johnson, $100; Goldenrod Garden Club, $50; Anonymous, $100; Carol Goad, $100; Blanche Schaeffer, $100; John and Susan Moore, $50; Donald and Mary Gibson, $50; Pauls and Charles McFadden, $250; Melvyn and Helen Brown, $300; Loyal Adams Jr, $50; Anonymous, $1,000; Clyde and Janice Hoyle, $50; Henry nad Kathleen Chappell, Jr., $50; The Agape Circle St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, $50; Anonymous, $50; Walter and Billie Bierer, $200; Glenna McKee, $55, in memory of Wayne R. McKee and Mark A. "Andy" McKee; Martha Freibert , $1,000; F. Ernest Gates, $20; Dianne Chinnes, $100, in memory of husband Bob Pierce; William Bailey, $100; John and Susan Wilkinson, $100; Joseph and Sara Mills, $100; George and Gloria Johnson, $100; Anonymous, $100; John Cloyd, $250, in honor of Joseph and Dorris Cloyd; Good News Class of NEPC, $200; R. William and Carol Jordan $100; Amy Shell, $100; Joan Kuhn, $100; Mary Cribbs, $100; Carol Shapre, $50; Peggy Janicki, $200; James and Pamela Head III, $50; Janet Brownstein, $50; The Morris Law Firm, $500; Violet Tsiantis, $200, in memory of Angelo Tsiantis; Grace Allen, $100; Jacqueline Cominotti, $30; John and Elva Aiken Jr, $600
Week’s total: $10,800
Total to date: $15,250