United Christian Ministries helps those in need

COUNTY — More than 25 years ago, several area church leaders gathered together and began discussions about how to best serve people visiting their churches asking for help with food, clothing or money to pay their rent, electric, or heating bills.

This group of church leaders soon recognized the value of combining resources and developing a system of record-keeping and communication to serve people in need. From this cooperative effort, United Christian Ministries opened its doors to its neighbors in need in July 1989. Supporting churches provided food, clothing, financial gifts and lots of volunteers. In its first six months of operation, UCM provided 538 emergency food packages, assisted 112 households with utility payments, with a total expenditure in direct aid of $7,624.

Fast forward 25 years, and UCM is thankful for the support of approximately 80 churches. During the first six months of 2014, support received by UCM from the faithful churches, businesses, and the community provided 1,137 emergency food packages, assisted 546 households with utility payments, with a total expenditure in direct aid of more than $63,000.

Autumn has officially begun, and UCM’s preparations are well under way to meet community needs that arise when the temperatures drop and the winter season begins. Winter warmth items such as new hats, gloves, coats, and blankets will soon fill the shelves thanks to generous donors. The items will be offered to people of all ages and sizes as they visit the ministry in the coming cold weather months. In addition, the ministry is hosting its annual UCM Feet for Heat 5K Run/Walk. Over the course of its 25 years of service to the Pickens County community, United Christian Ministries has helped thousands of neighbors who simply cannot afford the costs of heating their homes each winter season. Imagine the plight of the elderly person existing on a fixed monthly income below the poverty level. Winter arrives, the temperatures drop and the cost to have their heating fuel delivered exceeds $350. Or they resort to using an open oven or old space heater to stay warm and the electric bill skyrockets beyond their reach.

The winter months of 2014 brought periods of extreme cold temperatures, and UCM provided $20,000 more in emergency heating assistance compared to last year.

Local residents can help UCM prepare to meet the needs of neighbors this coming winter by lacing up their running shoes and joining the community on Nov. 8 for the annual UCM Feet for Heat 5K Run/Walk.

Whether running or walking, participation will help keep someone warm this winter.

To learn more about United Christian Ministries and the 2014 Feet for Heat, visit