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I was overwhelmed with joy when I read the article “Mayor seeking to reopen shelter” in the Friday, Nov. 21 edition of The Time and Democrat.

As we ride or walk up and down Russell and other streets, we cannot help but see homeless men and women carrying everything they possess on their backs. We should not sit on this, but we should act positively on this situation.

It really saddens me to know the only warm place the homeless will find is a fast-food restaurant, a county library or the emergency room of the hospital during the day, but there is nothing available during the night. These are human beings who have not been privileged to have a warm place to lay their heads. At night, we might find them in a dilapidated house, an alley, a broken down vehicle, under a cold overpass, or wherever they feel safe.

I know funding was the reason for closing the Samaritan House, but with hundreds of churches and many generous donors throughout Orangeburg County, we should be able to pool our resources and reopen the Samaritan House. There are churches that operate a weekly or biweekly soup kitchen. That is really a great gesture, but these folks also need a warm place to reside.

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How can we enjoy our blessings without sharing them with the less fortunate? Aren’t we our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers? Seemingly, the homeless are considered the forgotten people. The homeless should not be cast aside.

With Christmas only a few weeks away, let one of your gifts be a donation toward the reopening of the Samaritan House. Therefore, I am pledging the amount to match the mayor’s donation in 2019. I am challenging others to do the same. These people are not homeless by choice. They are homeless because of a lack of affordable housing, divorce, law eviction, natural disaster (hurricane or flood), mental illness, physical disability, having no family or supportive relatives , negative cash flow, post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fire or foreclosure. Some of the homeless are homeless with children.

When the new board is selected, members should pledge annually to help sustain the Samaritan House. They should not rely solely on donations from others.

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Janie Cooper-Smith represents Orangeburg County Council District 5. She is council vice chairwoman.

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