Event fosters ‘culture of giving’ in Pee Dee

FLORENCE, S.C. – Bell chimes could be heard throughout the Waters Building in Florence Tuesday afternoon signifying the many donations being made to Pee Dee nonprofits for Giving Tuesday.

The Eastern Carolina Community Foundation hosted a donation station at the Waters Building where representatives of nearly 50 nonprofits gathered to accept donations and educate the public on the services their organizations provide.

Denise Howard, Giving Tuesday coordinator for the Eastern Carolina Community Foundation, said the overall goal of the event was not necessarily to raise a lot of money but to create a culture of giving in the Pee Dee and get people excited about philanthropy and encourage local nonprofit organizations.

Manna House executive director Daphine Tedder said the current season is the busiest time for the organization to collect donations because after New Year’s, all of the “warm, hearty giving” stops. Tedder was one of several nonprofit representatives in attendance at the Giving Tuesday Pee Dee Donation Station.

Manna House serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday to people who may need a free meal.

“I have to get what I can get during Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Tedder said. “This is right in between Thanksgiving and Christmas so it’s a perfect time for me to solicit for more donations to get me through 2019.”

Tuesday, Tedder said she was accepting anything she could get.

“A smile, a volunteer, a check, it all works,” she said.

Donations to Manna House will be used to purchase additional food and repair a faulty air-conditioning system so that people can be warm while they are served breakfast and lunch, Tedder said.

Vital Aging of Williamsburg County Inc. director Robert Welch said it is important for his organization and other Pee Dee nonprofits to showcase their work and how they affect lives.

“We want to thank the Eastern Carolina Community Foundation for all they’ve done in bringing this together and embracing the Giving Tuesday movement to remind folks that it’s very important to remember the work of all these organizations and how they uplift everybody,” Welch said. “Vital Aging is here for senior citizens of Williamsburg County to provide nutritional and other important aging services to help seniors age in place and give them healthy options. That’s what we’re all about.”

Harvest Hope Food Bank donor development director Nicole Echols said she thinks it is important for the community to be aware of all of the nonprofits that are in the Pee Dee and the hard work they do to support the community.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for all the nonprofits to have one place to get together and for the community to be able to come out, find out what we do, how we support the community and financially support us so we can continue the work that we do, especially in the holiday season,” Echols said. “It’s Giving Tuesday. The Pee Dee is a very generous place and we appreciate them.”

Having nearly 50 nonprofit organizations represented in one place was terrific, according to Sherri Bender of Florence, one of the many donors who participated Tuesday. She said she attended a similar event at a different location but the atmosphere wasn’t as comfortable and congenial.

“I’m going to browse everybody,” Bender said. “I have some special ones. I’m with WIP (Women in Philanthropy), I’m a member there. Lighthouse Ministries, I donate there. I just started giving to Pee Dee Thrift Shops, which is really a good cause. And I like the Junebugs. They’re smaller.”

Signature Wealth Strategies donated $500 to the Eastern Carolina Community Foundation during the Giving Tuesday Pee Dee Donation Station event. Scott Mitchell, chief investment officer at Signature Wealth Strategies, said the company has been a supporter of the community foundation since it started, and a lot of the employees are on boards that were represented during Giving Tuesday Pee Dee.

“It’s always been important for us. Part of what we do is to be involved with community organizations,” Mitchell said. “This is a great chance to go see what a lot of those organizations are doing.”

Eastern Carolina Community Foundation Board Chairman Tom Ewart said that without folks like those at Signature Wealth Strategies, Giving Tuesday Pee Dee could not have been possible.

“We’ll use the funds in supporting the nonprofits throughout the Pee Dee area,” Ewart said. “That’s what the community foundation is all about. We’re a vehicle to get funds to those nonprofits.”