It's time to help the area's less fortunate by participating in The Empty Stocking Fund, organized by The Herald. The Empty Stocking Fund is a holiday assistance effort to help needy families in the newspaper's readership area.
Contributions will be divided among eight local nonprofits -- Fort Mill Care Center, Clover Area Assistance Center, Chester County Department of Social Services, The Turning Point of Chester, Project HOPE, PATH (People Attempting to Help), Salvation Army and Tender Hearts Community Outreach.
Contributions to the Empty Stocking Fund can be mailed to P.O. Box 10921, Rock Hill, SC 29731, or dropped off at The Herald, 132 W. Main St., Rock Hill. Contributors' names will be published in The Herald.
Agency: Tender Hearts Community Outreach and Thrift Store, 511 Kings Mountain St., York.
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Hours of operation: Thrift store hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Services: The nonprofit group provides food and clothing to those who have been referred by local agencies, such as the York County Department of Social Services. It operates a thrift store, where clothing, furniture and appliances are sold, to help support the community outreach. The organization opened Tender Hearts House of Hope, a homeless shelter for women and children, in September.
By the numbers: Last year, volunteers assisted more than 1,000 families with food and clothing. The group expects to surpass that number this year. In 2006, it assisted 556 children with food and toys for Christmas; this year's goal is 850.
What they are seeing now: "We've had people that have come in here that have lost their jobs . . . and need help with their doctor bills," said Ainslee House, founder and executive director. "It's middle-class families that need the help. They have ran up on a hard times." House said 50 percent of the clients are disabled and vary in age. The agency also provides assistance to a number of seniors.
Example of a recent individual/ family served: House said a widow was worried about paying her property taxes so she went without buying toilet paper and food. House said Tender Hearts is able to assist her with toiletries and groceries. She said the agency recently was visited by a lady who only wanted a Christmas tree for her family because she couldn't afford one.
Sources of funding: Donations from churches, civic organizations, individuals and businesses and small grants.
Budget: Last year's budget was almost $59,000. Information on this year's budget was not available.
Brief history: Tender Hearts Community Outreach was created by Ainslee House in 2006 to help families living in poverty. Tender Hearts House of Hope, a homeless shelter for women and children, was opened earlier this year.
Contact information: Ainslee House, founder and executive director of Tender Hearts Community Outreach & Thrift Store, 684-3132.