BY KEVIN HOWELL
Sumter United Ministries
Every marriage seems to have two types of people: the planner and someone who is content to know just enough detail to pack the bags.
I am the travel planner for my family, especially family vacations. I enjoy setting dates and details and anticipating a new experience. It amazes me when I think of how easily we all expect our lives to follow the schedule we create.
No wonder the apostle James warned us to always follow our plans and thoughts “if God wills”. Our plans can derail in a fleeting moment.
A client visited the Crisis Relief Department this week with one such story. She is a single mother with a teenager at home and lives in a rural part of the county. She worked and tried to make ends meet in creative ways, boasting about being frugal and resourceful to augment her income.
A few weeks ago, while driving with her daughter and dog, she was hit by a drunk driver at high speed.
The SUM volunteer who conducted the interview saw the images of the damage. He said to me: “The only thing I can say is that the car was absolutely destroyed. She is blessed to be alive.”
There are layers of suffering in her life and worries about money and how to pay bills. Since insurance is handled, she had to rent a car when she needed to run errands. It has caused an unexpected strain financially. She has unbelievable injuries in rehab and her daughter has also suffered from chronic pain since the accident.
The accident also meant the end of regular income. She is self-employed and there are no benefits to cover her absence from work.
This customer heats her house with electricity. She had one final notice threatening separation because she had been unemployed for weeks. Sumter United Ministries was able to pay their final notice period and provide some temporary peace. She felt encouraged and her hope was renewed. A donation to the Fireside Fund will continue to provide opportunities like this to encourage needy neighbors who live next door. We may not always know if our plans are in accordance with God’s will, but we can make sure that our compassion does. Thank you!
– Kevin Howell is director of the Ministry of Crisis Relief at Sumter United Ministries.
ABOUT THE FIREPLACE
Every winter since 1969, The Sumter Item has held a fundraiser to collect money from its readers, which will be donated entirely to Sumter United Ministries.
The faith-based nonprofit organization provides emergency relief and life rehabilitation services ranging from food, shelter and clothing to final bill payment, access to educational opportunities and a medical clinic.
The Sumter Item recognizes and values every service their staff and volunteers provide, but the Fireside Fund was created to focus on one area that will be critical over the next few months: heat.
Every cent donated directly helps the people living in Sumter by preventing the heat from being turned off, providing access to propane or other heating sources, and, when funds are sufficient and the need exists, funding long-term home repairs to create a home more efficiently.
IN HONOR OF
Each year, The Item leadership team selects a recently deceased person to honor that year’s campaign. The honoree is someone who has made a positive impact on the community, whether through service, philanthropy, or corporate leadership.
Abe Stern ticked all of those boxes.
He was Sumter’s sole Holocaust survivor and for more than 60 years ran a successful shoe store, Jack’s Department Store, where he created a place where students could make money and receive professional mentorship.
Despite his traumatic past during World War II, when he was sent to a concentration camp and arrived in the United States with $30 in his pocket, he always displayed a positive attitude and love for life and Sumter.
He served in the US Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base and became a philanthropic and community supporter of Temple Sinai, Sumter’s only synagogue.
New donations beginning January 17: Monica Gober, $100; The Walter LeNoir Family Christmas, In Loving Memory of Leilah and Walter LeNoir and Raymond R. Cook Jr., $625; Roosevelt and Naomi Swinton, in honor of Leroy Fleming, $50; Sumter County Masters Gardners Assn., $500; Linda G. Day, $100; Thomas Seavert, $50; East Pearl Properties LLC, $400; and Maureen Maclin, in memory of James (Jim) Maclin, $100.