For some, tough times are not just seasonal

Tega Cay’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors needs donations to help ‘adopted’ families

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comJanuary 1, 2013 

— A group of Tega Cay neighbors, aware that financial shortfalls don’t end with the final bell tolls of Christmas charity, are looking for a little help.

This time, it’s again close to home.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a nonprofit aimed at helping Tega Cay or Fort Mill area residents “when there is a need after all of their resources have been utilized.”

Short- and long-term emergency care is a staple of the group, consisting of close to 20 people. In the past half dozen years, the group has contributed almost $400,000 to families in need.

As the group has grown, it’s swelled to include people from Steele Creek, Rock Hill and Lancaster. Numerous charities – a men’s shelter, children’s home, soup kitchen – have been helped, as have children with cancer and parents without work.

Just in 2012, more than 5,200 coats were given away. But there’s still a local need.

“This year and last year we’ve tried to find families around the holidays who could use our help, to help them get through the real tough times,” said Bill Stumpf, group CEO.

Just prior to Christmas the group was looking to “adopt” three Tega Cay-area families, but already received a bit of good news when one saw its financial situation improve.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors will continue to aid the other two. One is a mother facing cancer, with her and her teen daughter’s earnings going toward mounting bills.

She shared with the group feelings of “sinking,” being exhausted and feeling guilty because her daughter is having to help, writing of having “no idea how I’m ever going to get caught up at the rate I’m going now.”

Another single mother has three girls. She works two part-time jobs without transportation except a bike, which will become increasingly difficult to use during the winter. Like others the group helps, this family has at stake the ability to remain in its home, schools and community.

“When people find that there’s a need, we do everything we can to meet that need,” said group member Diane Woods.

Often the families receiving help from Neighbors Helping Neighbors are those hitting a “bump in the road,” Woods said, and are back on their feet before too long. Others need longer.

Downsizing in the job market has need running high, she said, with the group often hearing of folks simply through word-of-mouth.

Many groups partner with Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

A long-time helper in Tega Cay’s fire department recently donated $1,500.

The Tega Cay Womens Club recently donated $2,000.

At holiday time, Stumpf said, giving seems to come more naturally and can be seen in stories like the recent family without money for a tree, who was given not only a tree but the presents beneath it.

“These are the kinds of things that everybody needs to be doing every day,” he said. “Our objective is to raise the awareness.”

For more on Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and to help the families being adopted, search the group on Facebook, visit tegacayneighbors.com or call 704-907-9471.

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