Organization donates flag and pole

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An American flag waves proudly today in downtown Bishopville, next to the Lee County Chamber of Commerce, thanks to the efforts of a nonprofit organization.

On Thursday, a flag was hung on the flagpole that was donated in late December by WoodmenLife, officially known as Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, a not-for-profit fraternal benefit society. The society operates a large privately held insurance company for its members, according to www.woodmen.org.

The history of the organization includes numerous philanthropic efforts, community outreach projects and a program to donate American flags, the website states.

Cam Watson, financial representative for the organization, said members celebrate patriotism in many ways, including presenting U.S. and religious flags.

"WoodmenLife is one of the largest distributors of U.S. flags," he said. "The organization has donated more than 2 million American flags and presented them to nonprofit and community organizations."

The organization celebrates and honors the American flag throughout the year, he said.

Members also present American Patriot's Handbooks to schools, libraries and newly naturalized citizens as well as American history awards to students.

There are more than 900 community-based WoodmenLife chapters throughout the nation, according to the website.

The chapters conduct volunteer, patriotic and charitable activities that benefit individuals and communities, the website states.

The organization's annual "In Honor and Remembrance" ceremonies pay tribute to the heroes and victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The local organization, based in Florence, also grills and offers food at various community events. During the October 2015 flood, members grilled for first responders.

On Thursday, Tim Houlahan, recruiting sales manager, grilled hot dogs and bratwursts for attendees at the event.

"Giving back is part of our business plan," Houlahan said. "We encourage all of our members to participate in community service."

Deanna Rollins, executive director of the Lee County Chamber of Commerce, said that on behalf of the chamber, she was thankful for the donation.

"We've been needing a flag for a long time, and to finally have it is great," Rollins said. "It's nice to have it here downtown where it would be visible for all."

Randall Gooding, commander of Robert E. Lee American Legion Post 29 in Bishopville, assisted with raising the flag on Thursday.

Gooding is a U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran.

"I think that every true American ought to fly a flag," he said.