Crane donates to 10 charities
Ten charities on a local and statewide level are the beneficiaries of thousands of dollars in donations from Crane Merchandising Systems in Williston.
Charitable organizations from Barnwell, Aiken and other surrounding areas were nominated by Crane employees to receive funds through the Crane Fund for Widows and Children, which “makes contributions to charitable organizations that provide direct assistance to underserved populations in communities where Crane operates,” according to the company’s website.
Crane Merchandising Systems President Brad Tedder said the fund shows the importance of community and that “we are all in this together.”
The company, which designs and manufactures vending machines, hosted a luncheon at the Williston facility on Nov. 30 and invited representatives of the selected charities to receive their checks and discuss how they help the communities they serve.
Cans for Cans, Holy Apostles Church’s Snack Pack program, the D.I.G. Program, and the Higher Ground CDC are the four awardees located in Barnwell County.
Cans for Cans
Cans for Cans is a ministry started by Barnwell First Baptist Church member Sherrie Still to help put a dent in hunger, one can at a time.
Still, who volunteered at the Legion Center Ministry Soup Kitchen, noticed some churches were having trouble preparing meals as the number of people going to the soup kitchen grew. The soup kitchen served more than 25,000 meals in 2016.
Prayer led her to start the ministry, which recycles aluminum cans and uses the profit to buy canned food items for the soup kitchen. Cans are collected at a trailer set up beside 21 Allen Street in Barnwell as well as bins at various companies like Crane.
“That has been great blessing,” said Still of the bin set up at Crane.
More than 2,000 pounds of food was purchased last year through Cans for Cans. While the Legion Center Soup Kitchen closed in 2017, Cans for Cans is now supporting the community soup kitchen that was started in December 2017 by First Baptist Church.
Snack Sack Program
Holy Apostles Church is using its donation to support the snack sack program, which provides snacks over the weekends to homeless students or students who otherwise would not have access to food at home.
“There’s a real need,” said church member Jane Embler of how the program added 20 students this year. Students are identified by the schools.
They started with 40 when the program launched a few years ago, but now support 105 students. At a cost of $75-$80 per child for a school year, the cost adds up, she said.
The Dreams, Imagination & Gift Development Program was started in 2013 by Williston native Steven Brown as a way to show children “that big dreams happen in small places.”
He said he saw so much potential in his hometown while growing up. Even though he now lives in Greenville, he believes it’s important to invest in Williston to help “bring that potential to fruition,” he said. This includes creating a pipeline to local industries.
DIG, which recently partnered with Clemson to expand, includes several components, including an afterschool enrichment program that has approximately 66 children enrolled, a summer camp that has had a waiting list, and an annual STEM Festival in April that attracts more than 3,000 spectators and 50 exhibitors.
“Kids are eager to learn,” said Brown.
Higher Grounds CDC
Higher Grounds Community Development Center also received a check, which will support its Angel Wings Food Bank.
The food bank, which is located on Allen Street in Barnwell, had supported more than 600 clients over the past decade. They give away food to those in need on the fourth Saturday of each month. They also gave away 118 baskets for Thanksgiving and also had a giveaway planned for Christmas.
“This is a passion for me,” said site coordinator Marie Washington.
Augusta Warrior Project
Not to be confused with the national Wounded Warrior Project, the Augusta Warrior Project helps veterans in 17 counties in Georgia and South Carolina across the Central Savannah River Basin, including Barnwell County. Any veteran who served from World War II to present day, regardless of whether they were wounded, is eligible for assistance.
“There are a lot of veterans in our area who are suffering,” said Kim Elle, Augusta Warrior Project’s executive director and CEO.
There are 22 veteran suicides every day in America, mostly due to the veteran not having the right job, she said. Five veterans committed suicide in Augusta recently, but Augusta Warrior Project was not connected with them. If they had been, Elle said the organization could have reached out to help.
“It doesn’t matter what the need is. We want to give hope and create opportunities for them to live the life they want to live,” said Elle of how they connect veterans to education and benefits.
Several Aiken County charities also received donations, including Carley’s Ray of Hope, which was started by USC Aiken Coach Kenny Thomas in memory of Carley McMaster. The Aiken child died in 2008 due to a brain tumor.
The charity provides scholarships for handicapped high school seniors, hosts a veterans hunt, and helps families that experience tragedies or have sick children.
Christ Central in Aiken is an all-volunteer organization that provides job skill training, GED program, mentoring, and a Saturday camp for high risk children.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Aiken also received a check. Their main focus is an afterschool program.
Crane also awarded donations to two statewide charities.
The One SC Fund was started after then-governor Nikki Haley asked that a statewide fund be launched in response to the October 2015 flood which left many people homeless. It immediately provided funds to non-profits that were helping get people to “safe, secure places,” said Erin Johnson, the Vice President of Community Investment.
“Thanks to many generous donors throughout the state and nation, the Fund has distributed over $3,200,000 in grants to nonprofits to support disaster recovery projects across our state that have helped over 1,500 families return home,” according to www.yourfoundation.org.
The fund is still helping people recover from the flood and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
The United Way Association of South Carolina will use its donation to further its goal of providing support and enhancing the capacity of local United Ways across the state.
Recently, the number of United Way organizations throughout South Carolina dropped from 25 to 21. This included the closure of the Allendale County United Way, which merged with the Barnwell County United Way, said Richard Butcher, the chief financial officer for the UWASC.
Each local United Way can have up to 150 partner organizations to whom they provide financial support on an annual basis, said Butcher.