Benefit offers aid after Clover minister's house fire

jbecknell@enquirerherald.comFebruary 25, 2014 

Pastor Sam Thompson and his wife, Annie, exchange smiles as they chat in the homeless shelter they operate and where they have been living since their home was destroyed in a fire last month.

JENNIFER BECKNELL — news@enquirerherald.com

  • Want to help?

    Project Action, which is raising money for Sam and Annie Thompson, will present a benefit concert – “Beauty for Your Ashes” – at 6 p.m. March 1 at the Blue Eagle Academy auditorium, 300 Clinton Ave., Clover. To buy tickets, call New Beginnings Baptist Church at 803-222-0711.

    Donations for the Thompsons can be sent to:

    • York Baptist Association, P.O. Box 36817, Rock Hill, SC, 29732. Write “Thompson Family Relief Fund” in the memo line.

    • Clover Community Bank, P.O. Box 69, Clover, SC, 29710. Write “Pastor Sam Relief Fund” in the memo line.

— Pastor Sam Thompson and his wife, Annie, lost their home last month, but they’re grateful they have a love strong enough to weather tragedy.

The couple of 52 years, who moved into the homeless shelter they’ve operated for 18 years after their home was destroyed by a Jan. 22 fire, clasped hands and exchanged a quick kiss as they chatted. The fire was ignited by combustible materials left too close to a heater.

They agree that facing the loss and living in the shelter has not been easy. But Thompson, pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church, which operates the Lighthouse homeless shelter, said he isn’t discouraged.

Thompson sees the hand of God at work in every turn of fate.

“We’ve walked in these guys’ shoes now,” said Thompson, 76, referring to the shelter’s clients, “and we know what to do to help them better.”

The Thompsons have devoted most of their lives to helping others in need, and now others are organizing to help them. A March 1 concert is planned at the Blue Eagle Academy auditorium in Clover to raise money for belongings lost in the fire.

Pastor Clay Thompson, the couple’s youngest son, said their homeowners insurance will only cover structural damage from the fire.

“Everything that they owned is gone,” he said. “So we decided that we would do a benefit concert to help replace everything that they lost.”

Clay Thompson said organizers who call themselves Project Action are working to line up a headliner group for the concert, called Beauty for Your Ashes.

Concert tickets will be sold through the church at a price to be determined when arrangements are finalized, he said; T-shirts will be available for a $20 donation.

Churches, local businesses and other organizations can sponsor the event by buying ads in an event program for $25, $50 or $100, he said. The York Baptist Association, which has set up a fund to benefit the Thompsons, is helping promote the event, he said.

“They still have each other; they’re my heroes,” Clay Thompson said. “I’d like to be half the man my father is.”

Since the fire, Sam Thompson has been staying in the Lighthouse men’s shelter, while Annie Thompson stays a few doors down in the second-floor women’s shelter with the couple’s great-granddaughter, La’Loni, 7.

Living in separate quarters has been the most trying, Annie Thompson said.

“You’ve always been a steady support for me,” she said, turning to Sam. “Even though we’re making it, it’s hard. I wake up in the night and you’re not there.”

Still, she knows things will get better.

“It’s what we have that is so strong,” she said. “We’re going to make it because of our love for God, and our love for others and our love for each other.”

Clay Thompson said he and others are working to find permanent living arrangements for his parents. He offered to have his parents stay at his home in Huntersville, but they would not leave the Clover ministry.

“This is my heart,” Sam Thompson said.

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077

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