FAIRFIELD COUNTY – When Shannon Woodard drove through the streets of Columbia earlier this week, she said she was struck by what she saw: people in the streets, gathering their belongings.
And she felt the need to do something. So on Saturday, she is, thanks to some help from the community.
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., a Fairfield County school bus will be in the parking lot of Walmart where Woodard and her helpers will accept donations until the bus is filled.
Then they will crank it up and head to Shandon Baptist Church on Forest Drive in Columbia to deliver what is collected.
Water, toiletries, diapers and wipes, cleaning supplies, gloves, trash bags, non-perishable food and clothes are needed. Clothes should be gently used, in bags and labeled as to who the clothing is for – kids, etc.
Woodard said she knew she had to do something after visiting the area on Monday.
“Just to travel all the streets to get there, just to see all the people in the streets, gathering their things,” she said. “It touches my heart. It made me realize how much we take for granted on a day to day basis. I just felt the urge to do something. Other people in the community were asking so I made the contact with the school district office and they were willing to help so we are going to make it happen.”
Superintendent J.R. Green said he was happy the district could help.
“She reached out to me and said she wanted to put something together to assist the victims of the flood,” Green said. “She wanted to know if we would be willing to help and I felt it would be a very good idea. I don’t know her personally but I really appreciate the effort and her thinking about putting something like this together. I was glad she reached out to me and we are more than willing to be a part of it.”
Woodard, a native of Winnsboro, said she remembered when Hurricane Hugo hit. She was in high school.
“My hometown of Winnsboro was hit like Richland was this time,” Woodard, 37, said. “Now as an adult, what those people are going through, it really just touches your heart and makes you realize that the things we take for granted are what they truly need. If there is something we can offer, then let’s do it.”
She encouraged everyone, even if they can’t give something material or monetary, to pray for the people who are facing the after effects.
“Just pray for them, pray for strength. They are going to need strength to get through this. Pray for the people who are out there now working,” she said.
Woodard’s two sons – Nygel, 8, and Rylan, 9 – also have been helping. On Thursday were tasked with helping get signs ready for Saturday.
“I was telling someone yesterday that they understand we are helping people but I want them to see how good and happy it makes us feel to do something for somebody else,” she said. “You can talk about it but until you do it you don’t get that feeling in your heart.”
Woodard also said she has been in contact with Fairfield County Sheriff Will Montgomery about doing another similar collection effort in a few weeks.
“A lot of people are saying that Sumter and Clarendon County have been hit hard but don’t have the community support right now so that is something we are possibly going to look at. I mean, these people are going to need help for weeks at a time,” she said.
If someone would like to donate but can’t make it Saturday, call Woodard at 803-718-3091 and she will find a way to get the supplies collected.
Patricia M. Edwards is the regional editor for Civitas Media’s properties in South Carolina, which includes The Herald Independent. She is also the General Manager for The Herald Independent.