AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — After a marathon of shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, another option can give you a break from retail promotions. It’s called #GivingTuesday. It’s a global movement, but its focus and mission are all local.
“My kids had gotten into DSS custody and couldn’t have a stable home. I got into my own house and they helped get me get my house with all the furniture I needed,” Jennifer Duncan told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.
Duncan is part of one of the 60 families and 15 homeless people that Walking Tall Ministry helps in our area. The idea for the much needed resource was one from above.
“I started with a folding chair and a $10 pair of clippers from Roses and it has grown into this 2,000 square foot building and huge RV,” Founder/Owner of Walking Tall Ministry Felicia Westall said.
The organization has a number of initiatives it provides to families and people who need it the most including daily soup kitchen, food pantry, free hair salon, hygiene and clothing closet, and an indoor shower facility.
“All the people and products that we could give away to people in need. We always have what they asked for. And that’s all through little donations all in God’s name,” she said.
All assistance is provided with no questions asked. “You see them at their lowest and you help them rebuild and they trust us. Then, when they are done with our program and they have a job and a house and they’re successful, they come back and see us and talk to people who are where they were. That’s just a cycle that keeps going. It’s beautiful,” Westall shared.
The group also has a delivery service. NewsChannel 6 cameras where rolling when Walking Tall served locals in the community.
“I feel blessed, you know, I ain’t never walked down the street and I was hungry and I had to steal from a food because God always gave me what I needed,” John Tigers said after receiving food, water, and blankets.
“God is good either way, but you know, but with them and what they are doing, it’s a blessing,” Brenda Epps added.
Epps also gave back. Her family donated a bag of shoes that could help folks walk a mile.
“I remember in school when you know you were cool or not with the type of shoes you had on. So, it’s a real treat to me when we’re able to help children have a nice pair of shoes and it really tickles me,” Minister Zack Moyer said.
The people who are provided assistance are very low income some have no power, no water or they may have water, but they don’t have power.The needs of those people will determine the ministry’s plan of attack.
“A week ago we were delivering Thanksgiving food to people who didn’t have any. It was already cooked food because we knew of one family, they didn’t have power. Well then God showed us this other group of people and they’re all staying in a trailer that doesn’t have lights or it doesn’t even have wiring to have lights. They’ve been cooking on a really old charcoal grill,” Westall shared.
Then Westall turned to Facebook. “I made a post and said, if God puts it on your heart, this is what we would like to do. A propane grill would make their life a lot easier. Propane is cheaper than charcoal,” she added.
Then donations came in. “The next day a lady gave us a propane grill and then the next day someone donated $100 for kerosene. Before we knew it, we took them that propane tank, a grill, food, and blankets. They had everything they needed to survive in this low point,” the owner and founder said.
Gloverville Elementary is also pitching in to help out. The school donates leftovers to the organization. So far it’s the only school in the area willing to participate.
“Maybe some of the other schools might start doing this in their areas,” Cafeteria Manager at Gloverville Elementary Katina Hastings said. “I know it was a lot of homeless people that are around our areas. I’m just glad that we’re helping. But I’m hoping that the other schools are started helping too,” she added.
It’s all a process for the two at the front of the organization.
“People come in and any shape that they are and we establish a relationship with them by sharing the love of Christ with them, by giving them the things that they need,” Moyer said. “They’ll listen to me speak and tell my testimony because I was bound for a long time myself and the next thing you know they, they begin to change. They begin to think differently and slowly but surely we see people come out and get homes,” he shared.
It’s allowing folks like Walking Tall to give back in a major way.
“I would not have been able to get my kids back. I’m thankful to Zack and Felicia and all the people that donate and everything they’ve helped with getting me the stuff I needed to get my kids back,” Duncan said.
Just in time for the Christmas season. “It’s wonderful. It’s a good feeling to know that you get your babies in your arms and they’re not with somebody else like in foster care. It’s great,” she added.
#GivingTuesday continues to grow year after year with more than $380 million raised in 2018.
Meanwhile, the ministry has big dreams. They are looking to pay off the $58,000 owed on their property. They’re also looking to build up by adding a women’s and men’s dorm, and rehabilitation center. Also on their wish list — a transit van, to be able to pick up families who don’t have transportation when the organization has events and other things that they could benefit from.
For more information, contact the organization at 803-226-6579 or ZakFelisha@Gmail.com.
You can also send donations via PayPal at PayPal.me/FelishaRuehmer.