Elderly couple helped by Fireside Fund; Biblical command 'to be openhanded' followed

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In this special installment of the Fireside Fund, Sumter United Ministries' Diane Garrick shares how the money raised helps the agency to minister to those in need from a biblical perspective. Garrick is the office manager at the ministry.

During the holiday season, many people are filled with the Christmas spirit and are busy buying, wrapping and giving gifts. For most, this time of year is filled with joy and peace.

For some, however, this isn't the case. There are some who are very sad during the holidays due to the loss of a loved one or a serious family illness.

There are others who may struggle with a financial difficulty, and still others who struggle daily financially just to make ends meet. For these people, Christmas is yet "another thing" they will not have enough money for. For these people, the holiday season — and Christmas in particular — can be a season of increased stress, worry and guilt.

Here at Sumter United Ministries, we try to lessen the burden for some of our Sumter neighbors by providing assistance through our various ministries and special projects.

Fireside Fund monies that we receive from The Sumter Item's annual wintertime fundraiser for our Crisis Relief Ministry allows us to help more clients during the winter heating season than we would otherwise be able to help. It also gives us the freedom to provide a bit more than our "normal" amount of assistance in cases where there's a great need.

Last week, we interviewed and assisted many clients who came in specifically for help to heat their homes. One interview was with a pleasant, elderly couple who came in requesting food and help with buying propane. Both receive meager, fixed disability income, have no family to help them and have no "extra" money to speak of at any time. It was a very simple case, and it was easy to want to assist them.

Usually, with our clients, we're looking for "the crisis" that caused someone to seek our help, but we have some clients — like this elderly couple — who have no way to improve their situation on their own.

It's people like this that I think of when I read Deuteronomy 15:11: "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land."

This ministry is so very blessed to have individuals, churches, clubs, families, groups, schools and businesses who donate their time, money and other resources to help others in our community. Sumter is a community full of the love of God ...

1st John 3:17: "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?"

Wishing all of Sumter a very Merry Christmas, overflowing with the love of God!

Fireside Fund was established by The Sumter Item in 1969 to help needy families and individuals pay heating bills, buy firewood or heating fuels and stay warm during the winter months. Since its founding, Fireside Fund has brought in more than $1.5 million in donations from generous readers.

This winter's Fireside Fund is dedicated to the memory of former Sumter County Sheriff Tommy Mims, who died in December 2016.

Mims joined the sheriff's office as a deputy in 1965, and after 23 years of service, he was elected sheriff in 1988. Mims served as sheriff for 16 years until his retirement in 2004.

Throughout his tenure in law enforcement, Mims was seen as a mentor and father figure to the men and women he led. He was also considered a dedicated public servant by many Sumterites.

Donations can be mailed to The Sumter Item, P.O. Box 1677, Sumter, SC 29151, or dropped off at 36 W. Liberty St.

Anyone in need of assistance with heating costs may call Sumter United Ministries at (803) 775-0757.

Donations ending the week of Tuesday, Dec. 26:

In memory of Ken Hendrix from Linda Hendrix, $100; Delores

and David Redmond, $50; In memory of D. Gene Rickenbaker from Mary Kaye Rickenbaker, $200; Radman and Patricia Ali, $50; In memory of Marie Crolley from Larry Crolley, $100; Will and Crystal Fraser, $50; In memory of Raymond and Gernell McIntosh from Benny and Lois McIntosh, $300; In memory of dear friends Griffin Avin and Ben Raffield from Jimmy and Eunice Bradshaw, $300; Graham Baptist Church Men’s Class, $100; In memory of Charles Jenkins, Authur James and Willis Ardis from Bobby Singley, $20; In memory of our parents from Dan and Lucy Owens, $100; Church women United in the Greater Sumter Area, $100; Discovery Sunday School Class of 1st Presbyterian Church, $100; In honor of Wilson Hall Lower School, $25; In memory of Alvin Burns and Mrs. J.C. Pate, $20; Zoar Family Community Leaders (FCL) Club, $50; Reader’s Club, $25; In honor of Jenny Jackson from Charlie Pitts, $25

Total anonymous this week: $230

Total combined anonymous: $230

Total this week: $1,945

Total this year to date: $22,976.23

Total last year: $48,601.18

Total since 1969: $1,563,564.47

(Editor's Note: Our weekly Fireside Fund update runs each Tuesday, but this week's story was held until today to wait for totals to come in that were delayed due to the Christmas holiday.)