WIRE members with the 120 bags of items they filled for homeless children during the 2018 Kids Closet event.

TEN DOZEN HOMELESS students around South Carolina will find life a little easier, thanks to members of Women Involved in Rural Electrification (WIRE).

Members from WIRE chapters affiliated with Palmetto Electric and other cooperatives across the state came together in Greenville on Tuesday, December 5 to put together bags of supplies for homeless youth. Each bag held personal hygiene items as well as laundry detergent.
The 120 bags the community outreach groups filled will be distributed to youth in need through the state Department of Education, which has identified recipients in school districts around South Carolina.

Palmetto WIRE members (from left) Cathy DeLoach, Carolyn Smith, Joann Long, Betty Cook, Deborah Nettles and Missy Santorum deliver items for homeless children to Rose Choice, director of student services, Hampton District 2.

For the project, called Kids Closet, members of each of the 12 WIRE chapters across S.C. filled 10 bags — five for girls and five for boys.
“That’s 10 kids that will get helped in your area,” said Peggy Dantzler, of SC WIRE, the coordinating organization for co-op chapters. “There are a lot of homeless kids in our state. I don’t mean kids in foster homes, although that’s tough, too. These are kids who have nowhere to live. Their families move about from place to place … but they still want to go to school.”

Dantzler noted that local WIRE chapters already assist children and families served by electric co-ops in other ways. Some chapters of WIRE provide emergency assistance to families suffering after house fires or other catastrophes. Chapters also provide local scholarships to students in their area. Through SC WIRE, they all help fund annual scholarships for women who want to continue their education, the Jenny Ballard Opportunity Scholarship, named after a founder of WIRE.

Kids Closet is modeled after WIRE’s annual Co-op Closet effort, which for five years has provided personal supplies for displaced nursing residents. The S.C. Council on Aging distributes the items to residents of nursing homes that are closed suddenly due to safety regulations or DHEC compliance issues. This summer, some Co-op Closet supplies were given to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Dantzler noted.

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