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St. Luke Lutheran Church awards $161,500 in grants to ministries and nonprofits
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St. Luke Lutheran Church awards $161,500 in grants to ministries and nonprofits

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FLORENCE, S.C. — St. Luke Lutheran Church in Florence has awarded $161,500 in grants to ministries and nonprofits in the Pee Dee area through an endowment fund.

The church presented 19 grants to 17 grant recipients including two St. Luke ministries and 15 local nonprofits at a reception for the recipients on Monday afternoon at the church.

The recipients told briefly about how the grant money would be used by their organization and expressed their gratitude to the church.

“The $6,000 grant that the Mercy Medicine Free Clinic received from the St Luke Lutheran Church Foundation is designated to help support the downtown shuttle bus service operated by the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA)” said Wayne Jackson of Mercy Medicine Free Clinic. “This free service enables many of our patients to get to and from the clinic as well as to referred specialty care services in the downtown Florence area. Transportation is often times a barrier for our patients, and we are very grateful that this grant addresses this need in a very positive manner.”

Barbara Chappell, director of resource development for the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault in Florence, said afterward, “At Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault, we know that generosity and stewardship are two sides of the same vital coin. In fact, it is virtually impossible to advance a mission-driven organization like ours without both. The St. Luke Lutheran Church Endowment represents an extraordinary model and, as a result of its thoughtful leadership, the Church has been able to provide critically important resources to positive organizations throughout our community. For our organization, the support has helped us offer life-changing services. This year, it is helping Pee Dee Coalition to provide preventative services to students. We are enormously grateful to St. Luke for the help this year and for the help the church has offered Pee Dee Coalition for many years before this.”

House of Hope received the largest grant.

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“The generous grant funds we received support the House of Hope of the Pee Dee in two ways,” said Vicki McVey, House of Hope of the Pee Dee development manager. “First it helps sustain the current operating expenses of providing food, shelter and safety to the homeless men, women and children that stay at the Courtney McGinnis Graham Community Shelter, as well as the men’s Life Recovery Program. These funds also help with preparations to support families in our upcoming Tiny Home village that offers longer term transitional housing to men, women and children. The House of Hope appreciates the Saint Luke Lutheran Church for partnering with us in our past, present, and future.”

The grant recipients are St. Luke Men in Mission, $4,100 for two mission programs; St. Luke Youth, $15,500 for youth building; Lighthouse Ministries: $30,000 for Patterson Building improvements; First Friday Homeless Event, $5,000 for program support; House of Hope of the Pee Dee, $40,000 for operational support and Hope Village beds; Child Evangelism Fellowship, $1,000 for after-school program; and Florence County Disabilities Foundation, $1,050 for workshops and sensory rooms.

Also, The Naomi Project, $10,350 for transportation needs; iHope Christian Care and Counseling, $2,000 for education training; Mercy Medicine Free Clinic, $6,000 for patient transportation; Senior Citizens Association, $5,000 for meals and warming units; SpeciallyABLED Miracles, $4,000 for summer camp; Youth Mentors of the Pee Dee, $3,000 for youth outings; Pee Dee Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Assault, $6,000 for prevention programs; American Legion, $3,000 for community outreach building; Helping Florence Flourish, $10,500 for Summer Church Camp for disadvantaged children; and S.C. Lutheran Retreat Centers, $15,500 for campaign consultant and materials.

The Endowment Fund at St. Luke Lutheran Church originated from an estate gift of more than $2,000,000 by a church member in 2013, said Tom Ewart, who handed out the grant checks. He said the congregation believed that this gift would be most appropriately honored if a fund was established to fulfill St. Luke’s Mission: “Proclaim, Serve and Witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The church ultimately decided to enter into a partnership with Eastern Carolina Community Foundation to establish an Agency Endowment Fund, he said. In so doing, the church has been able to grow its investment and faithfully distribute grants in the community every year. St. Luke takes an annual distribution from the investment income to distribute to ministries and local nonprofit causes.

Nonprofit, charitable and philanthropic organizations are eligible to submit grant applications. The applications deadline is in October.

The endowment continues to accept gifts from church members and/or their estates to grow this fund.

For more information on St. Luke’s fund or Eastern Carolina Community Foundation, contact Taylor Bell at St. Luke Lutheran Church at or Belle Zeigler, executive eirector of Eastern Carolina Community Foundation, at

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