Federal worker turned to Woodyard Fund for help with utility bills after shutdown

Federal government shutdown brings out Columbia protesters

Some federal workers furloughed due to shutdown protested near Lindsay Graham's Columbia office.
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Some federal workers furloughed due to shutdown protested near Lindsay Graham's Columbia office.

For most in the Midlands, the federal government shutdown was a political chess game, viewed from afar.

But for many, the 35-day shutdown was more than a political debate over illegal aliens; it was life-altering.

Jeffrey is in the latter group.

Jeffrey works for a federally funded department, and continued to work during the shutdown, which started in December, but went without a paycheck during the more than month-long standoff between President Donald Trump and Congressional Democrats over building a wall along the border with Mexico.

“My job involves a lot of paperwork,” Jeffrey explained. He continued working because he didn’t want to get behind.

While he didn’t get behind at work, he got behind on his bills.

While he’s still trying to fend off eviction from his apartment for not being able to pay rent during the shutdown, one thing he didn’t have to worry about was his power being turned off, thanks to the Woodyard Fund.

After contacting the Salvation Army for assistance, he was guided to the Woodyard Fund, which paid his power bill.

“I was glad to accept this assistance,” Jeffrey said.

The Woodyard Fund has been helping community members who need temporary assistance pay their power bills for various reasons for more than 200 years. It is an annual campaign run by the Salvation Army that helps pay energy bills for residents in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry counties who are in crisis situations.

Through the Woodyard Fund, which traces its origins to 1816, community members can donate money to help those who need help paying utility bills. The State newspaper has worked with the Woodyard Fund by publicizing the fund and those it helps since 1930.

Eligible households get vouchers redeemable at businesses that provide heating services. The Salvation Army reimburses the businesses for the voucher amounts.

Each applicant is screened to verify need and to ensure that no other resources are available.

Donors contributed $93,446 to last year’s fund, which allowed the Salvation Army to provide utility assistance to 221 families from December through March.

The Woodyard Fund was able to help Jeffrey, as he continues to try to recover from affects from the shutdown — hoping that another one doesn’t happen. He tries to stay positive, and knows others with larger families to support who were affected even worse by the shutdown.

Still, he’s had a lot to worry about during the past couple of months.

“But at least I didn’t have to worry about my utilities.”

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.