As the winter season is quickly coming to an end and Fireside Fund enters its final week, many Sumterites are still struggling to maintain heat and recover from the near record-low temperatures in January, according to Kevin Howell, Crisis Relief …
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As the winter season is quickly coming to an end and Fireside Fund enters its final week, many Sumterites are still struggling to maintain heat and recover from the near record-low temperatures in January, according to Kevin Howell, Crisis Relief Ministry director at Sumter United Ministries.
The Crisis Relief Ministry continues to interview and assist clients from throughout Sumter County with heat-specific needs, and people's donations to Fireside Fund make that financial assistance possible, he said.
Howell shared the story of a man in his late 50s who recently came in to the ministry to interview for an SCE&G natural gas account. The man had a disconnection notice and was worried about maintaining reasonable temperatures in his home when the cold mornings occur. According to Howell, the man is unable to work because he has a medical condition stemming from a heart attack suffered less than a year ago.
"He has worked all of his life but couldn't continue his longtime job since the heart attack occurred," Howell said.
His household went from two incomes to one as the man's wife finds herself the sole provider in the home currently, Howell said, and they don't have an adequate income to support their modest budget.
"The man finds his life in a holding pattern right now," Howell said. "He's too weak to work but feels the pressure of having enough income."
After receiving counsel from the ministry, the husband is now exploring his options with Social Security Disability and Vocational Rehabilitation, Howell said.
"We gave him thorough counseling about the benefits of being evaluated for work and pursuing the assistance he needs from Vocational Rehab and other agencies," Howell said.
The Crisis Relief Ministry was also able to pay his final notice on his gas bill to prevent a disconnect and to delay further action until the next bill cycle, according to Howell.
"He was especially grateful for the assistance and the thorough conversation about his options," Howell said. "This wouldn't have been possible without your kind donations to Fireside Fund. On behalf of Sumter United Ministries, thanks to all of you who have donated to date."
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, which is in its final week, 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, March 5, 2018:
In memory of Deacon (and retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen.) Billy J. Ellis and son John Patrick Ellis from Barbara Ellis, $100; Love in Action Sunday School Class, $50; Refreshing Springs Kingdom Outreach, $100; in honor of Heather Paul from Charlie Pitts, $25; and in memory of Tommy Mims and Doug Mathis from Pat Burns, $100.
Total anonymous this week: $150
Total this week: $525
Total last week: $925
Total this year to date: $38,274.01
Total last year: $48,601.18
Total since 1969: $1,578,862.25
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