Struggling mother of three saved by generous WIS viewer

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands man who often donates to Harvest Hope Food Bank is taking things a step further.

On Tuesday, we introduced you to Donna McCormick. She's a harvest hope client who needed food and money to pay a light bill.

After our story aired, we got a call from a WIS viewer wanting to help. "For a little bit, that could have been me," said Gerald Tharpe.

Tharpe was doing on Tuesday what he normally does every evening, watching the news. But one story struck a chord. "It was just [McCormick]," he said. "It was her story."

McCormick is down on her luck and struggling to make ends meet. She was at Harvest Hope Food Bank on Tuesday getting food for her family.

While there, Harvest Hope volunteers also surprised her with gifts for her children. But it didn't solve another pressing problem. "Even when you work so hard to get by from week to week, one week can knock you down," said McCormick.

During our interview, McCormick said she had spent $2,500 to get her vehicles fixed on top of a $400 electric bill due by Friday. If it wasn't paid, she and her children would be in the cold with no lights.

The thought of that sent Gerald Tharpe into action. "Your story with her down on her luck was something I felt I could do," he said. "So that's what I want to do is help her out."

Tharpe is a medical salesman who often helps those in need, so he called WIS wanting to pay the $400 electric bill for Donna and her three children. "In Columbia, there's a lot of good people and I'm just one of those people trying to help somebody," he said.

Tharpe hopes his generosity extends beyond this story. "Maybe next time when somebody hears one of these, they'll step up," he said.

The bill has been paid, but we could not interview Donna because she was working outside the county. She said she is overwhelmed by the generosity.

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