Money becoming available to help Barnwell County's unfortunate

Barnwell County will soon be getting a chunk of cash to help the less than fortunate in the county.

South Carolina is receiving $3.4 million in federal funds and Barnwell County is set to get $23,063 of it.

The announcement was made Dec. 22 by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, according to a press release from his office.

The Emergency Food and Shelter (EFS) program money will be used to supplement and expand ongoing efforts to help those in need, stated the press release.

The money - distributed annually - can go toward shelter, food or other supportive efforts for the Palmetto State's homeless and economically disadvantaged people.

The EFS national board is chaired by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA is the federal agency which administers the grant.

In Barnwell County, a local FEMA board determines the vehicles used to distribute the money.

Fred Geier - the Barnwell County United Way director - sits on the local FEMA board.

Based on past history, the money is distributed in two payments, Geier said.

He said the payment may be available later in the year, possibly spring - with another to follow possibly in summer.

Rusty Marsh, the South Carolina outreach administrator for the Golden Harvest Food Bank is no stranger to fighting poverty.

The all-volunteer, nonprofit food bank distributes food in South Carolina and Georgia to 30 counties and 530 partner organizations.

Marsh is thrilled about the prospect of lending a helping hand to those in need.

"We're really excited about the funding," he said.

Golden Harvest might be eligible to get some of the funds in the counties the organization serves, he said.

The amount of money each county receives is based on its poverty population from U.S. Census Bureau figures, said Marsh.

Neighboring Allendale County will get $13,074 in funds while Aiken County will receive $103,960.

People and families who receive federal or state assistance or are at or below the poverty line are eligible for assistance, Marsh said.

The EFS board is composed of representatives from American Red Cross; Catholic Charities, USA; United Jewish communities; National Council of the Churches in the U.S.A., The Salvation Army; and United Way of America.