Some say nothing big ever happens in tiny Hickory Grove. They are wrong.
In the tiny rural western York County town of 467 people, one man’s free fireworks show that promoted unity, togetherness, and community has been noticed by South Carolina’s most famous of its four million-plus people.
Gov. Nikki Haley.
“The governor thanked me!” said Wesley White. “How cool is that?”
Haley read a column on heraldonline.com about White’s free fireworks show on July 4 where White invites everybody. Everybody meaning black and white, rich and poor. A warehouse worker, White, 29, spends $3,000 of his own money to put on the yearly show to show love for country, community, and each other.
Haley sent an official letter, personally signed and hand-written saying “South Carolina appreciates you!” Haley wrote to thank White for “inspiring us all,” and promoting “unity” and “joy.” Haley praised White for bringing people together in times where there is so much divisiveness.
The letter arrived in the mail Monday and White’s family rushed it to his job for him to see.
“This just shows that the only way we can make this nation stand is for all of us to come together and love each other,” White said.
The Herald’s story of White’s selfless fireworks brought a social media firestorm - all of it positive. His Facebook page was “blowing up like fireworks,” his story shared across the state. A Charlotte TV station came to tiny Hickory Grove to interview him on July 4 after The Herald’s story became huge. The fireworks show that in past years had a few hundred people show up mushroomed to almost 2,000 people, with cars lined up and down the roads in a show of togetherness and fun.
“We had everybody here, every color, every kind of person, showing that together we can be great in America,” White said.
White’s help for others has moved to mentoring young people about making good choices and collecting backpacks and school supplies so that all children regardless of income, race or what school they go to have new supplies when school starts in August.
“Every child out here should be able to go to school with a smile on their face and a backpack filled with what they need to learn and succeed,” White said.
After the joy of July 4, White like so many Americans was shocked, saddened and hurt by the violence in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas. The shootings of black men by police is terrible and unacceptable, White said, but the shooting of police officers in Dallas is worse.
“There is no room for retaliation, no place for violence, in a world where we need love,” White said. “What I did I hope shows that we can love one another and make a difference that way, by sharing what we have with others.”
Want to help Wesley White help others? Visit his Facebook page or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org