In a shortened holiday week last week, Sumter United Ministries continued to have large crowds of residents in legitimate danger of losing their heat and electricity, according to Crisis Relief Ministry Director Kevin Howell.
Fireside Fund …
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Fireside Fund provides donations to the relief ministry, which, in turn, helps local families in critical need through financial assistance with heating utilities in the late fall and winter months.
In detailing one client's story, Howell said it might be surprising for some to know how many of the ministry's clients are affected by medical issues.
A single woman recently visited the ministry, he said, with an electrical bill of nearly $500, and she had no ability to pay any of the bill.
"She's a cancer patient and is currently undergoing chemotherapy," Howell said. "She receives Social Security Disability, but it barely covers her necessary expenses."
Her various medications run more than $300 per month, Howell said, and co-pays for various medical tests and scans cost her on average another $300 a month.
According to Howell, her electrical heat usage with the bill was well above average, but she complained of how difficult it is for her to get warm during her treatment.
"She kept her thermostat far too high, but it was impossible to not feel great compassion for her struggle," Howell said. "We advised her on how to reduce her electric usage by using an electric blanket to keep warm versus heating an entire house at a high temperature setting."
The ministry team also encouraged her as it discussed moving in with a relative soon for long-term financial relief.
"She cried often, and she felt very sick and fatigued during her interview with us," Howell said. "The Crisis Relief Ministry was able to offer her substantial financial assistance and provide hope and encouragement during the greatest trial of her life."
Howell said this wouldn't have been possible without the support of Sumter County residents and the care they express through donations to Fireside Fund.
"We thank you because your generous and faithful gifts to Fireside Fund have continued to bless the community with critical needs," Howell said.
Fireside Fund was established by The Sumter Item in 1969 to help needy families and individuals pay heating bills or buy firewood or heating fuels to stay warm during the winter months. Since its founding, Fireside Fund has brought in nearly $1.6 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 for the week ending Monday, Feb. 26, 2018:
In memory of Tommy Mims, $50, Paul and Shirley Moore; in honor of Roland and Ada Lee Pitts $25, Charlie Pitts; Henry and Patricia Rogerson, $50; in memory of Tommy Mims, $200, Charles and Betty Ann Clanton; East Pearl Properties LLC, $150; in memory of Hoyt Collins, $25; Willow Grove A.M.E. Church, $150; Friendship Circle/Concord Presbyterian Church, $50.
Total anonymous this week: $225
Total this week: $925
Total this year: $37,749.01
Total last year: $48,601.18
Total since 1969: $1,578,337.25
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