Club’s generosity works out for local charities

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comAugust 29, 2012 

— Ask Sam or Annie Thompson how they’re doing and the response – “blessed” – is automatic. And after what one local gym did, the answer isn’t likely to change.

The same goes for Fort Mill Care Center which, like the God’s Kitchen ministry in Clover run by the Thompsons, was the recipient of award-winning generosity from Curves of Tega Cay in the Crossroads Plaza shopping center at the corner of Gold Hill Road and Hwy. 160 West near Tega Cay.

The gym won two $500 awards from Curves International for its work during the 14th annual company food drive in March. Awarded was second place for highest overall food donations and first place for the greatest increase from the past year. Members from nearly 10,000 Curves locations in more than 85 countries donated bags of non-perishable food or cash throughout March to support local food banks.

“We’re very proud of them,” Tega Cay site owner Sandy Strang said of her 260 members.

Tega Cay members collected almost 22,000 pounds of food. The Curvettes, led by Sue Tannenbaum, brought in 8,554. Cindi Mann, Jan Melson and The Bzeees collected 6,979 pounds, followed by Liz Darmochwal and the Early Birds at 5,507 pounds.

The unprecedented haul of the local drive was the result of a simple idea.

“It was forming the teams,” Strang said. “Last year we’d just collected food. This year we put them into teams, and when you put a little competition to it, that was all it took.”

Ironically, it was the promise of food that multiplied the donation at seemingly Biblical levels. Strang promised the winning 10-person team lunch. Members responded with nearly 22,000 pounds.

Both God’s Kitchen and Fort Mill Care Center received the $500 awards in addition to the donated food and cash.

“Certainly all of the donations that we are getting, every donation is a benefit,” said Jeane Cassidy, who heads the pantry at Fort Mill Care Center.

From May through February, the Care Center averaged about 21,400 pounds of food distributed each month. The figure was about 25,000 for June and July. Canned items are stocked pretty well, Cassidy said, but there’s always need. And that was before the “very busy” first day of school, where many families came for supplies.

“We’re low on the things that come in boxes and bags – cereal, oatmeal, boxed potatoes, Hamburger Helper, that sort of thing.”

The donation also came at a good time for God’s Kitchen, part of the ministry set at New Beginnings Baptist Church that also includes a thrift store and shelter. The task of providing and delivering hot meals to a community in need is compounded by continued work to finish the shelter.

“We’ve had overflow this year,” said Annie Thompson. “We need to hurry up and get this done before winter. We have people coming.”

At a time there are 18-20 people staying in space provided by the Thompsons, more in the summer heat or winter cold. The Thompsons hope to find the final funding for the years-long shelter effort.

“Wherever I can find a place for them, that’s where I put them,” Thompson said.

Curves plans to host a similar drive next year. Spurred in part by the win, but also by the experience members had at visiting the two charitable groups afterward.

“It was very touching to see what they’re doing,” Strang said.

Curves of Tega Cay is located at 829 Crossroads Plaza, Suite 125 in Fort Mill. For more information, visit curvestegacay.com.

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