Just over 300 families have received help this winter as part of the annual Woodyard Fund campaign.
Maj. Roger Coulson with the Salvation Army of the Midlands said fundraising efforts for the fund, which helps families in need with utility bills, were a success.
“It’s been good to see the relief in people’s faces when they know the Woodyard Fund is going to help them,” Coulson said. “It takes the pressure off, giving them a little breathing room to recoup and reorganize their lives.”
Many of the people requesting assistance were affected by the Oct. 4 floods, Coulson said, noting some people were directly affected, such as having damage to their homes, or indirectly, such as seeing less income due to business closings. Others often had medical crises or lost employment.
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According to the Salvation Army, donations were down slightly, with current year donations at $96,274.72 compared with $110,539.83 for the same period last year. Coulson said this is likely in part to community members making donations earlier to flood relief efforts who may not have had the additional funds to help the Woodyard Fund.
Though there are far more requests for assistance than money, Coulson said the fund’s impact has been huge. The Salvation Army said as of late last week, about 301 families were helped, and the average bill paid was $295.54
“We all sort of take for granted the ability to walk into our homes and turn the light switch on and there’s light, or to be able to change the thermostat and have heat,” he said. “... Utilities and heat are one of those things we can’t imagine having to go through the day without.”
The Salvation Army of the Midlands will continue to collect donations throughout the year, though the last appointments for assistance will be March 23.
Coulson said the Woodyard Fund could not provide assistance without the donations of people around the community.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported the Woodyard Fund,” he said. “We feel very privileged to be the organization that is able to provide this assistance.”
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.
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 March 11
Lydia Circle of the Seven Oaks Presbyterian Church, $100; Anonymous, $100; Laura T. Johnson, $50; Jacqueline S. Cominotti, $30; John C. Lee, Jr., $100; Kathy Chappell, $100, in memory of Becca Chappell; S. Valder, $100; Catherine S. Spigner, $100; Day Lily Garden Club, $50; The Bible Fellowship Sunday School Class of St. Andrews Baptist Church, $75; Patricia H. Dukes, $100, in memory of Charles E. Dukes; Lynette E. and Richard J. Burke, $45; William and Grayson Jackson, $100, for Faye; Roger Dale and Wanda W. Teague, $25; Charles L. McCallum, $100; Sarah J. and Flaminio Sanchez, $100; Kenneth W. Baldwin, Jr., $500; Ted M. and Pam Rentz, $25; SGM RET. Willie D. Meekins, $100; Open Book Sunday School Class – First Baptist Church, $25; DPP Professionals, Inc. and employees, $130
Weekly total: $2,055