Keep Reading. Subscribe Today.

Stay connected with our community and support nationally-acclaimed local news coverage. Sign up for a subscription today. Cancel anytime.

  • Already a subscriber?

Fireside Fund donations keep heat on for working single mother of 3

BY KAYLA ROBINS kayla@theitem.com
Posted 12/11/19

The call was made for Sumter to take action, and a group of charitable individuals have already helped make it happen.

We are only a few weeks into our annual Fireside Fund, where we ask our readers to donate money to the paper that we then give …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Fireside Fund donations keep heat on for working single mother of 3

Posted

The call was made for Sumter to take action, and a group of charitable individuals have already helped make it happen.

We are only a few weeks into our annual Fireside Fund, where we ask our readers to donate money to the paper that we then give every penny of which to Sumter United Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit that helps those in need with emergency and life-rebuilding services, from food and shelter to help with bills and education and medical support. We have already reached almost half of our total from last year, thanks especially to a few large donations.

That does not mean the need has been met. Winter has just begun.

Each year, the Fireside Fund raises money allocated for the organization to use for heating costs, including vouchers for kerosene, payments on final notices and, when enough is donated, long-term fixes to homes in need of upgrades.

Each year, too, it is dedicated to the memory of a different late member of our community. This year, the Fireside Fund, which started in 1969, is in honor of Sumter's late Bill Painter, a longtime educator and public servant who passed away in March.

With the extended stretch of unseasonably low temperatures in late November, many people asking for SUM's help are now wrestling with large balances on their electric accounts.

A majority of clients use electric heat in their homes, including one recent instance where a woman came in with an urgent request.

The restaurant kitchen manager has held the same job consistently, and work was stable until recently.

"As business has slowed, her hours continually dwindled. They are now down 75% of what she expected to earn just a few months prior," said Kevin Howell, director of the Crisis Relief Ministry, which helps clients with emergency situations.

As so many do, the woman relies on her income in a paycheck-to-paycheck budget. She is raising three children all under the age of 10, and while child support is ordered, she does not receive financial support.

"Imagine the stress of maintaining all of your household bills on just a few hundred dollars a month," Howell said. "That is the situation she is living in since the cutback."

If she had visited SUM at any time throughout the year, they would have been able to assist her with limitations. There are certain amounts of times a client can receive each type of service, and the Crisis Relief Ministry is often not able to pay every client's full final notice amount because it relies solely on donations - SUM does not receive local, state or federal funding.

With help from the Fireside Fund, Howell and his team can analyze the portion of the bill that is used for heat and offer additional assistance.

"In this case, we were able to pay the full final notice amount of $230, allocating the difference since she is an electric-only heat client," he said. "It provides incredible joy to know the resources are available to 'complete the task,' to be able to fully fund what our hearts long to do in helping a client. For this single mom, the additional assistance via the Fireside Fund allowed her to tuck in her kids at night in a warm home. And not worry."

Donations received as of Monday, Dec. 9: Walter and Judy Newman in honor of Dr. Bill Painter, $100; Jane Tisdale, in memory of W.M. "Boots" Tisdale, $100; Janice McCann, $200; Bobby Sigley, in loving memory of Charles Jenkins, Willis Ardis and Arthur James, $10; Glenmore & May Sharp Trust, $10,000; Thomas Riddle, $1,500; Bush and Nancy Hanson, $50; Col. (Ret) and Mrs. Donald Adee, $200; Franklin Colclough, $100; Mary King in memory of William King, $100; Dan & Dotty Lyles, $350; Hal & Barbara Tuttle, $300; Brewington FCL, in honor of Ruth Allen, $115; Bethel United Methodist Church, $500; Janette Sisk, $50; Women of First Presbyterian Church in loving memory of Bill Painter, $200; Linda Hannibal-Wheat, in memory of Roger Wheat, $100; Mr. & Mrs. Bobby Mood, in memory of Jennifer Lynn Mood Pillsbury, $100; Charlie Pitts, in honor of Roland Pitts, $25; Discovery Class of 1st Presbyterian Church, $100; Circle #9 1st Presbyterian Church, $75; Edna Bell, in memory of Billy Gallien, $25; Laura Barron, in memory of Richard Barron, $100; Paul and Monica Gober, $100 and Circle of Friends Dinner Club, $40.

Anonymous: $200

Total this week: $14,740

Total this year: $22,912.50

Total last year: $48,601.18

Total since 1969: $1,645,933.75