UNION — What can you do with $500?
If you are Union County Council on Aging Executive Director Earl Black and the money is $500 donated to your organization by the Union Community Foundation, you use it to help relieve the county’s senior citizens of having to choose between buying groceries and buying medicine.
UCF officers and board members presented Black with a check for $500 Wednesday morning. The presentation was a surprise as the UCF representatives had lead Black to believe they were there for a tour of the Union Senior Citizens Center.
In helping present Black with the check, UCF Vice Chairman Bill Goodwin praised the organization for its supports of Union County as a whole. Goodwin said the Council on Aging fits in with the mission of the UCF which is to find charitable organizations that can properly use the funds the foundation awards. He said the foundation’s goal is to give back to the community.
Once they had presented him with the check, however, the UCF officers and members were taken on a tour of the facility by Black who told them about the services the Council on Aging provides, especially its distribution of food and other donated commodities to local senior citizens. He told the UCF officers and members that their donation to the Council on Aging would be used to help the council’s food and other commodities distribution program.
“What we use that money for is to match other monies with,” Black said. “We use these monies to help with operations and hiring local people to help with food distribution.”
Black discussed at length the Council on Aging’s relationship with Second Harvest, a food bank that supplies the council with the food it distributes, both directly and in cooperation with local food pantries.
“We get from Second Harvest each year between 350,000 and 400,000 pounds of commodities,” Black said. “Anything from over the counter meds to food.
“We distribute those to seniors and other pantry partners across the county,” he said. “A number of our local churches help with distribution of food and other commodities through their pantries as does the Town of Jonesville.”
The amount of food and other commodities the Council on Aging receives from Second Harvest seemed to surprise the UCF officers and board members, and Black pointed out that it had surprised him and the rest of the council staff when they began receiving it.
“When Second Harvest began sending us the commodities, we thought we would be getting four or five boxes a month,” Black said. “They sent us a 53 foot truck filled with commodities.”
Unprepared for such largesse, Black said the council had to borrow a pallet jack from Jimmy’s Fresh Air Galaxy to unload the truck. He said the council now has two pallet jacks which it uses to unload the equally large truckloads of commodities Second Harvest continues to send.
While the food and other commodities are free, the Council on Aging does have to pay some transportation costs and does have to hire staff who, working with volunteers, unloads the truck, then unloads the contents of the boxes, sort them, packs them for distribution and then distributes them. Black told the UCF representatives that the funds they donated will go toward helping cover the costs incurred by the council in distributing food and other commodities to senior citizens.
Black said each of the seniors served by the council receives a bag of food and other commodities each week and, as often as possible, an extra box of the items each month. He added that, in addition to helping the council fund the program, the UCF’s donation will also help the council achieve its goal of helping senior citizens be able to afford food, medicine and other necessities on a fixed income rather than choose between them.
“We have 6,000 seniors in this county, 4,000 of whom are living on fixed incomes, on Social Security,” Black said. “The average Social Security payment is $1,000 a month in Union County. That means that for everybody that’s drawing $2,000 there’s somebody drawing next to nothing.
“What these commodities and foods from Second Harvest have allowed us to do is put these in the homes of seniors,” he said. “This allows them to use their Social Security for other things like medicine and their light bill. It enables us to help them stretch their Social Security and not choose between their meds and groceries.”
Black thanked the UCF for its generosity and said that donations like the $500 donated by the organization “subsidizes our ability to help the people of Union County.”
In addition, Black urged the public to support the council’s efforts by supporting Second Harvest.
“Second Harvest is a blessing to Union County,” Black said. “So anybody that gets an envelope from Second Harvest asking you to donate, know that it is helping people here in Union County.”
For more information about the Union County Council on Aging and the services it provides, call 864-429-1682.
Union Community Foundation
Located at 207 S. Herndon St., Union, the Union Community Foundation is, according to its mission statement, “a local, non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the development of a community tradition of philanthropy by assisting individuals, families, corporations, businesses, and charitable organizations to establish funds in support of the organizations and entities that will provide for the material, moral, intellectual, and physical improvement, assistance, relief, and well-being of the citizens of Union County, South Carolina.”
According to its mission statement, anyone may use the foundation “to give something back to the community.” Assets donated to the foundation “create one of several types of funds to support your charitable goals. We offer you a full menu of planned giving options to tailor your gift.”
It further states that:
“You can create a fund in honor of someone you love or to celebrate a special event. You can direct your gift broadly or narrowly to issues you care about or to wherever the needs are greatest. However you give, your gift can change lives — today and in the future.
“We use professionals to invest and manage our assets. Our board is made up of local citizens who know the community and our staff can help you create the gift that makes the difference you want.
“We offer you power and flexibility in giving without the paperwork, time and expenses associated with running your private foundation. We can help you set up a fund that will maximize both your tax advantages and your impact in the community — now and forever.”
Persons interested in establishing a fund through the Union Community Foundation should call 864-391-1098.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or email@example.com.