Woodyard Fund: Cold snap causes double trouble for Newberry woman

Last week’s cold snap took its toll on energy consumption – and likely utility bills – as residents turned up their thermostats to keep warm.

But colder temperatures wasn’t the only thing forcing some residents to tighten their belts. For Newberry County’s Ashley Robinson, it was a combination of weather and the breathing machine her 3-year-old daughter requires.

“I try to balance out my electricity,” she said. “But this time it was just a little harder.”

Thankfully for Robinson, a mother of two, she was able to get aid from the Woodyard Fund and the Salvation Army. The fund, which helps Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry County residents, is in place to help those in crisis situations pay their utility bills during the winter months.

“At first it was discouraging, because I couldn’t get through,” Robinson said of her phone call. “But I just kept trying and I followed the prompt, which was easy and finally got in.”

The Woodyard Fund was started in 1816 when the Ladies Benevolent Society provided firewood and 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.

For Robinson, the generosity of the community saved her in a pinch, especially when it looked like she was out of options.

“I was so happy and I thank God for it,” she said.

The Woodyard fund typically runs from mid-November to mid-March.