Autos for Opportunities is the new name for the Cooperative Ministry’s auto ownership program for low-income wage earners. The program previously known as the Community Auto Repository now has a name that acknowledges its role in linking low-income households to jobs and raising revenue to support our operations and services.
Since 1982, the Cooperative Ministry has been blessed with financial support from faith congregations, businesses, grants and caring individuals to help less-fortunate members of our community meet basic needs. In addition, proceeds from sales of donated vehicles help cover the costs of providing services.
Last year, we provided rent assistance to prevent homelessness for 267 households. Utility assistance helped to avert shut-offs of water, electricity or natural gas for 194 families. We furnished 109 homes with beds, dining tables, sofas and other household items. A total of 38,293 items of clothing were given to 7,155 adults and children, including infants. The Cooperative Ministry responded to 2,197 requests for food by providing vouchers for food baskets from local churches or canned goods, infant formula and snack packs from our on-site pantry.
Still, resources are insufficient to meet the need. Grants we count on for providing rental and utility assistance have been reduced by nearly 30 percent since 2009 while the number of people living in poverty in Richland County increased to 16.4 percent. We are able to help only two families a day to remain in their homes with lights, running water and heat. We have daily requests from 10 times that number.
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For low-income working families, access to a car is key to economic well-being. Research over the past 14 years shows strong evidence that owning or having regular access to a car is positively related to being employed, working more hours, finding better paying jobs and leaving welfare. Car ownership also may provide secondary benefits such as improving the owner’s credit rating.
The Cooperative Ministry needs the community’s enthusiastic support of Autos for Opportunities so we can continue extending a hand up to our neighbors in need. Any donation will go a long way toward moving the individuals and families we serve closer to their ultimate goal of self-sufficiency. Donations are tax deductible. To donate a car, boat or motorcycle — running or not — contact us at (803) 799-3853, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cooperative Ministry