FINKLEA, SC (September 21, 2018) - William Stackhouse is a man who stands tall in his community. It’s not just that he’s 6 feet 4 inches tall, but he’s a man loved and respected by the people of his resilient rural community of Finklea, S.C.
There are few resources in Finklea. The closest grocery store is eight miles away. And several years ago, when the county authorities wanted to shut down one of the local schools, the alumni of the school organized together to save the school and turn it into a community center for the kids. In 2004, they asked Mr. Stackhouse to be the president of the community alumni association that sponsors the community center, and he did not hesitate to accept.
“I grew up here,” says Stackhouse, “This is my community and I love it – these are my people.”
When Stackhouse went away to college, he never forgot his Finklea hometown community. “People on campus always said I was one of the best-dressed kids,” says Stackhouse, “But what they didn’t know was that the clothes I wore were donated hand-me-downs my community collected and sent to me.”
What was supposed to be a four-year term as the alumni association president turned into fourteen. “They don’t seem to mind me staying on, and neither do I,” says Stackhouse. “It just works.”
The old-school-turned-community-center has been a haven for the people of Finklea during Hurricane Florence. Taking refuge from a harsh, early afternoon sun, groups of residents are scattered around the community center property sitting in cars, clustered under shade trees and sheltering under the community center entrance awning. The storm-weary residents are all waiting for the daily Salvation Army canteen visit with much-needed food and drinks.
“I just got home from a dialysis treatment when hurricane Florence hit,” said one woman under the awning. “Soon after she hit, the roof came down on my bed. If I had been sleeping there, I would not be here today.” One of her friends shared how while she made a stop by the community center for supplies, someone kicked down the door of her home and stole many of their family belongings, including a much-needed generator. “Who does that?” she bemoaned, “I didn’t even have resources to boil water.”
Mr. Stackhouse moves from group to group encouraging the people as the Salvation Army canteen arrives and starts serving meals and drinks to the gathering crowd. The line is long and cars keep arriving. The word is out that The Salvation Army is here.
“People wonder what good their donations do and where their donations go,” says Stackhouse, “They go right here to serve people like these in their time of need.”
Men, women and children of all ages keep the line at the canteen slowly increasing as people gather for a warm meal and something cool to drink. One woman with her two children exclaims, “God bless the Salvation Army.”
Helping The Salvation Army of North and South Carolina in Hurricane Florence emergency disaster operations, a Salvation Army canteen from Marietta, Georgia, cooked meals and fed the community of Finklea well into the night until the last family was served. “We’ll be back here tomorrow with more food for these people,” says canteen operator Lt. Jose Valentin. “We won't ever turn anyone away and we will serve until we run out."
Mr. Stackhouse and The Salvation Army share a love of community and an unrivaled dedication to the people they serve.
Finklea, S.C. looks forward to seeing you at the community center tomorrow, Mr. Stackhouse. And The Salvation Army will be there to help you and the community you love.
How to Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors as the situation continues to be assessed.
Donate by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY
Mail checks to: The Salvation Army, P.O. BOX 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301
Please designate '2018 Hurricane Season - Florence' on all checks.
To receive a donation link via text: Text STORM to 51555About The Salvation Army