Where there are underprivileged people and families, there are others who stand by their sides to keep the faith and help them fill the gaps to make ends meet.
For 25 years, Good Samaritans For All People Inc. has helped these people with …
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For 25 years, Good Samaritans For All People Inc. has helped these people with back-to-school giveaways for their children, giveaways during the holiday seasons, as well as giving out food, clothes and furniture.
"We just celebrated part of our 25th year of helping people, burnout families, poor people and back-to-school children," the Rev. Eddie Thomas said.
On Saturday, Aug. 17, Good Samaritans held its annual back-to-school giveaway in Bishopville for the schools in the area.
"We served over 336 [children], preparing them and getting them ready for school with backpacks and school supplies," said Thomas.
With the help of local churches and members of the congregations, which helped volunteer and donate school supplies, they were able to serve the community just in time for the school year.
"This was a public giveaway for children from the community," Thomas said. "We have about 14 schools that we're preparing now to carry school supplies to, and we have about four schools in Sumter County."
Thomas said the organization covers all the schools in Lee County, including Robert E. Lee Academy, and more schools from Darlington County, Florence County, Kershaw County and more.
The organization hosts giveaway events around the holidays and at the beginning of the school year on an annual basis for those who need the help.
"We have about eight big giveaways a year, we have six furniture giveaways, and each week, for two or three days, we give away food," Thomas said.
Good Samaritans has run for 25 years, covering nine counties, including Sumter, Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee, Darlington and more, thanks to community volunteers, supporters and Eddie Thomas, along with his wife, Corine Thomas.
Thomas is a retired United Methodist pastor and disabled Vietnam veteran.
He said his injury from the war helped him keep "doing the good Lord's work" all these years, along with his wife standing by his side for more than 30 years.
The Thomases started Good Samaritans more than 25 years ago, after a woman and her two children from one of Eddie's past churches came to him and Corine for help.
The family's living condition was poor, and they had nothing. No gifts for the children for Christmas, no food for the family and no proper clothing for the children.
At the time, the three churches Eddie was a pastor at gave the Thomases $800 to spend and enjoy for the holiday. Corine said they should give the family $500 while she and Eddie kept $300 to get by themselves.
"We took them shopping for clothes, food and toys for Christmas," Thomas said. "They were so proud, and since then, it was on our mind that we needed to do a little more in the community."
The idea spiked across the counties as people in the community came together to help the unfortunate with this organization, including Sen. Thomas McElveen and Rep. William Wheeler, who Thomas said are big supporters of the organization.
"I've been to several events in the last eight years, and it's pretty moving," McElveen said. "To help the less fortunate and children, especially for the holidays, is just moving."
Holiday giveaways the organization has coming up are Halloween and Thanksgiving.
At the Halloween giveaway, the organization hands out candy and food to families and children.
While at the Thanksgiving giveaway, the organization teams up with more than 25 churches to help provide families with a nice Thanksgiving dinner.
The one giveaway that Thomas enjoys most is the Christmas giveaway, which will be held on Dec. 21.
"We have a large turnout every year," Thomas said. "We'll serve anywhere from 500 family units to 800 family units, and that can go up as high as 2,000 people. We have people coming from all over, even Columbia."
Thomas said the organization can use as many volunteers as possible for the Christmas giveaway because it's such a big event. He even said he'd be working nonstop himself until Christmas Day to help children get something under the tree.
"We help people from all over," Thomas said. "We serve them, and we don't turn nobody down."
To learn more about the organization or to get involved, contact Thomas at (803) 428-4448 or send donations payable to: The Good Samaritans for All People Inc., 18 Boone Lane, Bishopville, SC 29010.
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