Co-op Closet emergency bags packed with compassion in no time flat

Among the WIRE volunteers for the 2014 Co-op Closet project were Kelli McDowell (left) Jessie Hendrick (right) of HEC’s WIRE chapter and Denette Rimer (center) of Lexington-based Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative. (PHOTO CREDIT: WALTER ALLREAD)

Among the WIRE volunteers for the 2014 Co-op Closet project were Kelli McDowell (left) Jessie Hendrick (right) of HEC’s WIRE chapter and Denette Rimer (center) of Lexington-based Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative. (PHOTO CREDIT: WALTER ALLREAD)

In 28 whirlwind minutes, 18 volunteers from electric cooperatives across South Carolina packed a trailer load of Co-op Closet bags filled of emergency supplies for displaced elderly citizens.

Crammed full of toiletries, towels, pillows, Bibles and more, the bags will be distributed to the elderly when group or nursing homes are ordered closed for safety or health violations. The volunteers are members of WIRE (Women Involved in Rural Electrification), a community outreach association affiliated with electric co-ops around the state. They gathered March 13 at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina Inc.(ECSC) in Cayce to make short work of this huge act of kindness.

It was the third Co-op Closet project undertaken by WIRE and ECSC, a service association for Palmetto State co-ops. The similar project was done last winter, in response to a request from S.C. Lieutenant Governor Glenn F. McConnell and the state Office on Aging. The lieutenant governor reached out to the co-ops after the Office of Aging determined that elderly citizens too often are forgotten — almost left destitute — when homes are closed. Their group or nursing home is often the only home they’ve known for years, notes ECSC’s Peggy Dantzler, Co-op Closet coordinator.

The WIRE ladies have the process of packing the bags down to a science.

The WIRE ladies have the process of packing the bags down to a science. PHOTO CREDIT – WALTER ALLREAD

“Our WIRE ladies put the Co-op Principle of community commitment into action today,” Dantzler said. “They personify teamwork and cooperation and, as always with WIRE, it’s all for a good cause.”

The emergency relocation bags will be kept at the Office on Aging, which determines who need assistance around the state. WIRE members sometimes help distribute the bags and, as Dantzler notes, “To the elderly home residents, the supplies come just when they need an act of compassion.”

Lynn Elvis, an HEC WIRE member waits for items to be checked off the list for the back she's packing.

Lynn Elvis, an HEC WIRE member, waits for the items to be checked off on the list before putting the finishing touches on the bag she’s packing. PHOTO CREDIT – WALTER ALLREAD

As the lieutenant governor has said, “The ‘Co-op Closet’ … gives hope to many South Carolinians — some of whom may have lived next door or down the street from you or me.”

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