The Sumter Item's Fireside Fund helps disabled couple keep power after pipes burst

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 1/16/18

Early January's plunge in temperatures during an extended-day period, along with snow and ice, impacted Sumter residents in numerous ways, according to the Crisis Relief Ministry at Sumter United Ministries.

Donations to the Fireside Fund allow …

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The Sumter Item's Fireside Fund helps disabled couple keep power after pipes burst

Posted

Early January's plunge in temperatures during an extended-day period, along with snow and ice, impacted Sumter residents in numerous ways, according to the Crisis Relief Ministry at Sumter United Ministries.

Donations to the Fireside Fund allow the ministry to help families in need with heating assistance.

Recently, the ministry assisted a disabled, married couple with limited income with an electric bill, said Kevin Howell, Crisis Relief Ministry director.

Earlier in the month, the couple had to pay hundreds of dollars for repairs to water pipes that burst during the snow storm. Both the husband and wife are disabled, and their combined income is barely livable, Howell said.

"They are blessed to own their home, which keeps their bills modest and within their ability to maintain," Howell said. "The problem can be upkeep and repair expenses, which can exceed what they can afford."

Howell said the couple's home damage because of frozen water lines came after two years of repairing damage from the historic 1,000-year flood in 2015. The repair expense to pay for the burst water pipes was a major decision for the couple, Howell said.

"It literally became a choice between paying an electric bill or repairing the pipes in order to have water," Howell said. "There weren't any unnecessary expenses in their budget."

Since the couple depends on an electric heat pump and heats their home with electricity alone, the Crisis Relief Ministry was able to provide enough financial assistance to avoid a disconnection and provide relief, Howell said.

Howell said he expects high numbers of clients to come to the ministry in the coming weeks due to the impact of the early-January snow storm and unusually cold temperatures. He said he expects the combination of missed work due to weather closures and high energy bills because of the unusually low temperatures will be beyond many families' abilities to pay.

He expressed gratitude to local residents for their generosity and donations to the Fireside Fund.

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 for Tuesday, Jan. 9, through Friday, Jan. 12:

In memory of Rusty Weinberg from Mary Weinberg, $100; in memory of Frank Newkirk from Ann Newkirk, $25; in memory of Gloria Wendel from Paul and Joy Garifalon, $100; in memory of George R. Spangler Jr. from Nancy Spangler, $100; Air Force Lt. Col. Roger I. Williams (retired), $100; in memory of Doug Hooks and Marvin Berg from The Golden Age Sunday School Class of Hickory Road Baptist Church, $60; Fellowship Sunday School of Northside Baptist Church, $100; in memory of James Maclin from Maureen Maclin, $100; in memory of Tommy Mims from Edna Bell, $100; in memory of our deceased members from the Thursday Afternoon Canasta Group, $75; in honor of Francis "Sinky" Garrison from the Lee Altman Bible Class of Bethel United Methodist Church, Oswego, $200; Westside Neighborhood Association at Birnie Hope Center, $150.

Total anonymous this week: $0

Total this week: $1,210

Total this year: $30,869.01

Total last year: $48,601.18

Total since 1969: $1,571,457.25

Donations for the week of Tuesday, Jan. 2, through Monday, Jan. 8 (not listed in last week's edition):

Barbara and Buddy Gulledge, $100; in loving memory of Raymond Cook Jr. and Leilah and Walter LeNoir by their families, $400; in memory of Barbara McInnis from Mr. and Mrs. John T. Jones Jr., $100; in memory of Charles Shaw from Mr. and Mrs. John T. Jones Jr., $100; in memory of Tommy Mims from Mr. and Mrs. John T. Jones Jr., $100; Circle 1 from Aldersgate United Methodist Women, $50; in memory of Scott Rumph from Jennifer and Charles Moss, $100; East Pearl Properties, LLC, $500; in memory of Morsby Holland from Willie Mae Holland and children, $100; in honor of Melanie and Dan Hancock from Charlie Pitts, $25; St. Mark's United Methodist Women/Broad Street, $92.78; in honor of Margaret Edens from the Lee Altman Bible Class of Bethel United Methodist Church, $200.

Total anonymous last week: $600

Total last week: $2,467.78