CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. — Sending kids to camp for free is the goal for one Clarendon County resident who’s reaching out to a nearby community for help.
"It's just that's my calling from God," Faye Coker says. "And that's what I want to do."
Help other people. It’s what Coker, an Alcolu resident, strives to do. When she found out that kids from her church wanted to go to camp, but couldn’t afford it, she stepped in.
"One little boy says 'Miss Faye, will I be able to go to camp?" Coker says. "I said 'Yes. You can go to camp. I'll make sure you're going to camp,' and he just hugged my neck. And that's what put tears on. He wants to go to camp. If we have to pay for it ourselves. He's going to camp."
Coker volunteers at the YWCA, a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence in Sumter.
Cle McDonald-Amaker and others with the YWCA heard about Coker’s goal and knew they wanted to help. They got in touch with the Iron Order, a motorcycle club with charters across South Carolina.
"We have five charters in the state, and every charter in the state donated to send these kids to camp," says Will Floyd, Iron Order's state representative.
Floyd says in six hours, members covered the cost of sending all the kids to Wafloy Mountain Village in Tennessee, with most of the men paying out of pocket.
"We come from all walks of life," Floyd says. "And being able to support kids that might not otherwise have the opportunity where some of our own brothers might not have had that opportunity as well is it's just it's it's cathartic in a way for us and it helps the community so it's a win-win for everybody."
“I mean, I said 'Wow,' I had tears in my eyes," Coker shares. "I literally had tears in my eyes. Just that quick."
Now, 13 kids will be going to the camp, led by a fellowship of pastors their church is connected to at the beginning of July.
"Some people didn't understand that these children really want to go to camp, and the parents can’t afford it, and some stay with their grandparents and it's hard," Coker says. "A lot of these parents just can't afford it. And it was like me when I was growing up. My parents couldn't afford it because there was eight of us. And now that I've grown up and I've seen what I've seen, and that I can afford it, I want to help."
The work isn’t done though. Coker and the Iron Order are trying to fundraise to provide everything the kids will need, from transportation and sleeping bags to toiletries and snacks.
"With Miss Coker, Lauren and the Iron Order MC just taking the reigns, it just goes to show how great Sumter is," McDonald-Amaker says.
The South Carolina Iron Order is planning to ride with the kids when they load a bus to escort them across the state line. Then a local charter is planning to greet the kids when they arrive in Tennessee.
For more information on how you can help donate toward transportation and camping supplies, you can email Coker at firstname.lastname@example.org.