SPRINGFIELD — On Thursday, Feb. 11, the Thursday before Valentine’s Day, love was not shown through a box of chocolates, cards or diamonds but through boxes of food distributed out of a sense of platonic love.
The volunteer actions and food acquisition and distribution of Save the Children and Mayors United, a group of western Orangeburg County mayors, and of volunteers behind the Old Springfield School in Springfield showed their love of the communities in the region.
One-thousand ninety-two boxes of food, donated by Save the Children and distributed by Mayors United and volunteers, were picked up by hundreds of people from throughout the region. This was a total in-kind donation cost of $36,036. Many free hours of time were given by volunteers at the distribution event.
The coordinator, mayors and volunteers showed up well before 8 a.m. on Thursday, and around 8:30 a.m., a line of 10 cars had already formed for the distribution scheduled to start at 9 a.m. The food truck from Save the Children showed up early in the morning as well. The 10 cars were the first of hundreds to follow.
Mayors Bobby Gordon of Livingston, Kenneth Gleaton of Neeses, and Tracie Clemons of Norway, who is also the coordinator of Mayors United, were busily helping sort through boxes and coordinating efforts early Thursday. Mayor Edward Furtick of Springfield and his wife were sorting boxes directly off of the truck. Springfield Mayor Pro Tem Francine Edwards of Springfield was also assisting in the volunteer efforts. Other council members from other towns may have participated and may not have been noticed, as they were in masks, as were all volunteers due to the pandemic. Other mayors were present and busy at various times and different areas of the acreage behind the Old Springfield School during the distribution.
“All the mayors of Mayors United were in attendance and assisted with the distribution, including Julius Jones of North and Sam Anthony of Woodford," Clemons said.
Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Springfield police officers were helping block off and direct traffic to behind the Old Springfield School. Volunteers from throughout the region, such as Sammy Garrick, Barry Pou and “Pit” Argoe, came to help with the distribution.
Student volunteers from Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School assisted later in the day.
Patrick Bowens, Dominion volunteer Henry Staley, Tyler Edgerton and Journey Aiken comprised one group of adult and youth volunteers.
“Jermaine Derricott, assistant principal at H-K-T High School, and Coach Felder, head coach of varsity football, were adult volunteers from the school who were special to us, as were all volunteers,” Clemons said.
“Also special to us, among others, was volunteer Lee Mikell of Dominion Energy Economic Group," Clemons added. "We also appreciated forklift support from the Orangeburg County Public Works team and, again, all of our volunteers.”
One of the first recipients of three boxes wished to remain anonymous and stated that his boxes would be going to two senior citizen widows and their caregivers.
Each approximately 30- to 40-pound box contained a block of cheddar cheese, a bag of approximately a dozen oranges, a pound pack of eight hot dogs, two strawberry yogurts, 4 pounds of frozen precooked chicken taco filling, 59 fluid ounces of yogurt mixed with milk, a gallon of 2 percent milk, a five pound bag of potatoes, a two pound bag of carrots, and two or three large onions.
The produce given away in the boxes of food was provided by SunCity Produce Company in conjunction with the Save the Children’s "Farm to Families Food Box Distribution.”
Mayors United and Save the Children sponsored a previous food distribution in Neeses just before Thanksgiving last year. 2,600 total boxes of food were given out during the Nov. 2020 distribution in that town, totaling $53,235 for that particular distribution.
Clemons has stated that they plan to continue to rotate future distributions throughout the towns of western Orangeburg County.