Wise is the compassionate man. Like wisdom, compassion is a uniquely human quality. Just as wisdom covers the intellectual or comprehending side of our nature, compassion covers the emotional or feeling side of our nature.
Compassion is made up of two words, “co” meaning together and “passion” meaning a strong feeling. So all the best in human beings, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern and caring — all are manifestations of compassion.
The devastating flood disaster in South Carolina demonstrated the true compassion of the community as we came forth to help others that were affected by this natural disaster. Research shows that the southern person is the most giving often donating up to 7.2 percent of their discretionary income.
In early October of this year, neighbors and friends came to the rescue when their state and citizens were hit with fast moving floodwaters and many were left with impassable roads, damaged bridges and were homeless and without water.
Over a foot of water was dumped overnight, leaving some trapped in their cars or on damaged road and rescue operations had to be implemented. Reportedly 19 people lost their lives and over 8,000 people were directly and hundreds of thousands were indirectly affected by the flood disaster.
Compassion is a word that describes our state. People attended first responders’ classes to help streamline the clean-up and rescue. Many churches and organizations gave certification classes to organize FEMA and state regulated disaster relief.
Some colleges and universities and athletic teams came together to give support such as LSU, UT and Texas A & AM. Out of town organizations arranged special donations such as the North American Mission Board, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Asheville and Buncombe County, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, the City of Birmingham, Slidell Louisiana Memorial Hospital, Rome, Georgia Cleaners and Service Master, Hormel, and Colorado Brewery. These were just a few.
To me it was amazing to watch the compassion and love that poured out from local and not so local individuals and companies. We, as a community aided each other with love in our hearts, with no prejudice or differences. Nothing mattered except to help.
There was little or no looting or malice in the area worst hit by the flooding. People returned to their homes and businesses unencumbered except only by the flood waters. I’d like to think we are a compassionate people full of respect, love, and would do whatever the situation calls for.
Locally many of our churches collected items and funds for the flood victims. Washington Street Baptist Church sent three trucks of water, food and clothing. Other organizers, with the help of the Fairfield County Board of Education, filled several buses with needed items.
M.O.R.E. – a local nonprofit – took in donations and distributed them to appropriate charities. Some of the places included church drop off centers such as Shandon Baptist Church, West Columbia Church of God, and NewSpring Church along with schools such as St Andrews Middle School and USC.
MORE is continuously collecting donations. The generosity has been overwhelming. From individuals to organizations such as Lake Wateree VFW and the Mitford Volunteer Fire Department, these donations are just one indication of the compassion and giving that is in our community. MORE has extended their giving to the local area with donations to Ms. Belva Belton’s program, our local food bank and animal shelter. MORE hopefully will be opening a free coat closet by the end of the month, thanks to generous donations.
Compassion is wisdom, love and respect. We should be proud our southern heritage has brought us up to be a compassionate people, a people without prejudice during crisis and a people giving without boundaries.
Dr. Virginia Schafer has been an active part of Fairfield County since she moved to Winnsboro a few short years ago. Originally she ventured into town to write a book — The Legendary Locals of Fairfield County and fell in love with the county, the people and a special homestead. Even though her background is in health care, her love for writing brought her to the Fairfield County Arts Council where she has orchestrated the Rock Around the Clock student’s writing contest for three years running, and she serves to promote literacy and creative writing to adults and children in the county.