FAIRFAX, S.C. (WJBF) — A community resource center in Allendale County may be forced to close its doors — if the sale of its building goes through.

“I was kind of concerned about it at first,” The Smart Box Executive Director Phyllis Smart told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk. “I was not going to fight, but then the people began to fight and said that we need The Smart Box here in Fairfax because we are an emergency food pantry, and we help tons of people eat,” she added.

The group serves about 3,600 people a month — providing food, household products, a homework center, mentoring, and more. Close to 1,200 kids are fed during the summer.

“I was very much concerned about the children and that they had been suffering from traumatic experiences that has happened in their lives. But it also became special because we began to feed those same children in their families here in Allendale County,” Smart shared.

“We don’t even have a grocery store here in this town, the nearest one five or six miles away, and, you know, it’s only one. We have a little dollar General here, but of course we don’t have fresh food here,” Fairfax Community Coalition vice chairman Willa Michael said.

It was also instrumental in the county’s recovery following the tornado in April 2022.

“We were able to do roofs on houses with a partnership with Clemson Extension. We were able to help people repair the top of their homes because of it,” Smart recalled.

A potential sale of the building where the organization runs its programs might force them to close.

“I’ve had six people that were supposed to be my landlords, and at the end of each deal, they backed out of the deal. And I think that happened because many of them came here. They saw what we were doing,” Smart said.

The community has petitioned to stop the closure, forming the “Fairfax Community Coalition.”

“After seeing the depth of the people receiving, we have a lot of elderly and people on fixed incomes in this town. It not only affects the town, but it affects Allendale County in a sense that a number of people are fed,” Fairfax Community Coalition Chairman Albert Saul.

“We are a new thriving town with an effective government that work with all citizens who are unified with a new mindset to better the town of Fairfax. That is our mission statement,” Smart added.

The organization will look for space at the Fairfax Municipal building if the sale goes through.

“We will be able to still offer the programs that we have because we have SC Works here in this building as well. We have South Carolina Victim Assistant Network, which are pro bono lawyers that come in and service the people in Allendale County,” Smart shared.

The Community Coalition meetings are held between the second and the third Saturday of every month from nine to 11.

We’ll let you know when the date of the next meeting on our website and mobile app.