It's time to help the area's less fortunate by participating in The Empty Stocking Fund, organized by The Herald. The fund is a holiday assistance effort to help needy families in the newspaper's readership area.
Contributions will be divided among eight local nonprofit agencies -- 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: Salvation Army, 119 S. Charlotte Ave., Rock Hill
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Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, by appointments only for regular assistance. The agency is no longer taking applicants who need toys for Christmas.
Services offered: Provides assistance with food, clothing, shelter and spiritual guidance, has an annual Angel Tree/Food Pantry at Christmas and summer camping for children.
By the numbers: The organization assisted 130 families, or 187 people, with transitional housing in 2006. So far this year, it has assisted 46 families, or 162 people. Year-round assistance with utilities, rent, food and clothing last year totaled almost $129,000. This year it has recorded filling 447 food orders and helping 244 families with rent and 751 families with utilities. Assistance with rent and utilities has grown by 15 percent over last year.
What they are seeing now: Maj. Melody McClure said the agency has been seeing people who have been "feeling the crunch of gas prices" and need help. "We are trying more and more to help them here in this office and to make referrals to keep from sending them around in circles."
Example of a recent individual/family served: McClure said an elderly couple came in seeking assistance with utilities. The woman was mugged coming out of a check-cashing business and "the money was gone." She also said the shelter has been full with very large families and they have been seeing lots of homeless people.
Sources of funding: Donations from churches, businesses, individuals, kettle drives, the United Way of York County and a mail appeal for donations.
Annual budget: The 2007-2008 proposed operating budget is more than $576,000.
Brief history: The Rock Hill Salvation Army opened March 2, 1930. The family shelter opened in October 2003.
Contact information: Majs. Cedric W. and Melody McClure, 324-5141.