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Nonprofits prepare for Midlands Gives next Tuesday

Some nonprofits are participating in Midlands Gives for the first time after having a hard year with the pandemic.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Many local nonprofits are getting prepared for Midlands Gives, the annual day of giving the Central Carolina Community Foundation puts together to help raise money for these groups.

SOLE Stepping

Kara Jefferson, the founder of SOLE Stepping, is getting geared up for Midlands Gives next week.

"We want to just be able to grow and touch as many children as we can with the gift of shoes," said Jefferson.

Sole Stepping helps provide socks and shoes for kids at elementary schools. The nonprofit has been around for five years.

Typically students are paired with volunteers until they have the shoes that fit them and shoes they feel good about.

"We are able to encourage, not only their hearts and their souls, but also it helps with getting shoes that are appropriate for them to fully participate in school," explained Jefferson.

She says the shoes have not only made a big difference for the kids, but for the families as well.

This is their first year taking part in Midlands Gives. Jefferson says the pandemic has impacted them significantly.

While they were unable to meet with students this year because of COVID-19, the group was able to leave shoes for the kids at the school. They've also haven't received much funding.

"We're expanding because the needs of our community have grown," said Jefferson. "The needs of the children have grown and in order to be able to reach more children and reach more families, Midlands Gives is huge for us this year."

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Blanketing Families

Annette Hammond, the founder of Blanketing Families, says she got the idea for the non-profit after battling breast cancer and leukemia more than six years ago.

"I said, 'God, what do you want me to do? What am I going to do? I don't know, I can't work anymore. What am I to do,'" said Hammond. "He said, 'To go out and cover others as I have covered you."

Her organization helps provide blankets and dry goods for families and those who are homeless in the community. The group also has put together summer reading programs.

This is also Blanketing Families' first time participating in Midlands Gives.

With COVID-19 impacting more people in more ways they you can count, their goal this year is $5,000 to help raise money for a new van so they can travel to more communities to serve more people.

"It is 2021 and we are a part of Midlands Gives and we are excited! We are boots to the ground," explained Hammond. "Every time you see Blanketing Families, you will see me or my twin sister. Everything that we do, we do as a community. We do in unity."

The nonprofit is also working on having a community garden.

Midlands Fatherhood Coalition

Eleanor Boyd, the director of development for the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, says they support dads in the community.

"It's a very important issue and I think that our community needs to be aware of it and join us and invest in fatherhood and strong families," said Boyd.

They have various programs such as peer sessions, counseling and father-child activities.

They're also starting some programs that are aimed at younger-at-risk youth related to making good choices.

"I think that fathers are often not given the credit that they deserve for the impact that they make for safe communities, economically stable communities. Children who have fathers are more secure, they're more likely to finish school, they're less likely to make poor decisions, even commit suicide," explained Boyd.

This year the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition's goal is to raise $5,000.

Santanna Hayes, the marketing and communications manager, says they want to make sure fathers have what they need to be successful in their children's' lives.

"Midlands Gives is a huge opportunity, not just for individuals who are going to give, but also just to raise awareness and support for our mission which is to make sure fathers are actively involved in their children's' lives and to make sure the community understands how important fatherhood really is," said Hayes.

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South Carolina Youth Advocate Program

Sitrenia McDaniel, the regional director for the Midlands region of South Carolina Youth Advocate Program, says their therapeutic foster care agency places kids in foster care and provides a clinic for mental health services.

"Many of our donations really help our kids fulfill some of their dreams that they're not able to do without funding from the state, whether it's Medicaid or directly from the state agency," said McDaniel.

The non profit has been around for about 20 years. This is their first time taking part in Midlands Gives, partly due to how the pandemic impacted them this past year.

"Donations were down tremendously. The donations that we receive, really provide a lot of services for all of our kids in foster care," explained McDaniel. "The one thing that is really different for our agency is 100 percent of the funds or the donations go directly to what the children may need."

Some of the donations they receive this year will go to kids going to summer camps, any education activities and cargo bags they give to kids who come into foster care. These bags include blankets, teddy bears, coloring books and other items.

Midlands Gives will be on Tuesday, May 4th. It will be going on from 6 am until midnight.