BY KEVIN HOWELL
Director of the Department of Crisis Relief Sumter United Ministries
I hope I will never be held responsible for the conveniences of our world that I take for granted.
On that chilly morning, my heat came on at my preferred setting, and the gas fireplace roared to push out the cool air without me thinking about it. Now imagine carrying propane tanks to a filling station every third day or not having a heat source to beat the cold.
At Crisis Relief Ministry, we provide help with propane to struggling neighbors in need. Many of these customers have large “underwater” tanks in their yards, and the propane is delivered. Other customers, however, use portable tanks that plug in outside the home and supply fuel to radiators and built-in fireplaces.
This week, a customer asked for help with propane. It uses a 20-pound tank, the most popular size for patio barbecues, and refills it every third day in the winter.
Imagining the hassle of hauling the heavy tank every few days just for warmth made me instantly grateful for everything I take for granted. To humiliate us further, she came to us for help with what equates to about $ 12 in a refill fee.
This widow lives in Lynchburg. She is a young senior in her early sixties. Her husband passed away almost two years ago.
Two years before his death, she stopped working to take care of him. She is still grieved and struggling to ‘reset’, struggling to agree to re-enter the workforce just a few years before retirement. She lives on Social Security which she receives on behalf of her husband, a modest income. She barely makes ends meet.
We advised her by encouraging her to switch to part-time work. Almost all of his earned income will be surplus and make his life easier. Although she misses her husband, she seemed ready to move on.
Her house needs repairs, including a broken HVAC central unit. She has a propane fireplace and heats the whole house with it, admiring the wood trim and mantel that her husband built before his death. She carries her tank around for propane two to three times a week and has never complained.
Sumter United Ministries operates with great freedom as our resources are primarily donations with no rules or requirements to follow. When we met this simple lady who asked for $ 12 in help, it became apparent that God wanted us to do better. It was time to surprise her.
After a phone call and some research, a 100 gallon propane tank is being installed and will be filled, thanks to donations we have received from the Fireside Fund.
How does that compare? Based on her current use, this will last her eight to ten weeks of thoughtless heat, which is in stark contrast to what she is experiencing now. She was so grateful.
What a great story so close to Christmas. I also don’t want to take our donors for granted. Thank you for sharing your blessings while on vacation with those in need by contributing to the Fireside Fund. It makes a difference!
New donations as of December 14: Charlie Pitts, in honor of Roland Pitts, $ 25; Linda Day, $ 50; Women of Fraser Church, $ 50; Faith Circle Goodwill Presbyterian Church, donor, $ 100; Joan & Frank Doyle, in memory of Tracy Millar and in honor of Dee & Drue Spigner, $ 200; Kathryn Levi, in memory of Hubert D. Osteen Jr. and Dr. Mary Elizabeth Blanchard, $ 300; Sue and Chuck Fienning, in memory of Henry C. Fienning, $ 500; First Presbyterian Church / Presbyterian Women, $ 200; Phil and Barbara Finley, $ 100; Shaw Heights Baptist Church Adult Sunday School Class of Three, $ 100; Boyle Bible Class Trinity United Methodist Church, $ 100; Berthella S. Ellis, in loving memory of Richard M. Ellis, $ 100; and Guy and Karen Chapura, $ 100