COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - People in the Midlands are reaching out to help those displaced from Allen Benedict Apartments after they were forced to leave their homes following a hazardous gas leak that caused the deaths of two men earlier this month.
From church donations, gift cards, to a phone bank with Harvest Hope, one Midlands woman is now independently sponsoring an Allen Benedict Court family and plans to help this family for the next three months.
Madeline Cameron says she used to live in similar living conditions like those of Allen Benedict Court residents which is one of the reasons she took it upon herself to help. Cameron is a single mother, and seeing people in this situation now, struggling like she once did, she said wanted to find a family to sponsor independently to “help them through this crisis.”
Cameron says she met the Benton family through a closed Facebook group called Allen Benedict Court Recovery Effort.
“I found her on there and she was saying that she was having problems getting her laundry done transportation, and food and things like that,” Cameron said.
After going back and forth with the mom through Facebook messages, she got an idea of what the family needed and delivered boxes of snacks, diapers, and clothes for the kids, along with pots and pans so they can cook.
“It’s just a caring thing. I’m not rich, I don’t have an abundance of financial wealth, but I do have the ability to just kind of reach out to people that I know and the community,” Cameron said. “You know the thing that I think about is instead of spending $20 or $30 a week on Starbucks, I can take that $20 or $30 and get her some Pampers for her kids.”
Shirena Belton, the mother of the family Cameron is sponsoring says she is beyond grateful.
“We’re just trying to make the best of it. With the people helping us, it’s making us feel a little more comfortable,” Belton said.
Belton and her family moved into the Allen Benedict Court apartments in November 2018. She said she had a few complaints, but is thankful to be alive after learning about the toxicology report.
She’s been staying at the Extended Stay hotel off Gracern Road since residents have been displaced. Belton says she’s one of the lucky ones not having to shuffle around from hotel to hotel, but needless to say, it’s still been a frustrating two weeks.
“I’m trying to work on everything but having these kids, it’s kind of frustrating because we’re stuck in one room,” Belton said. “When we first got here my son kept asking can we go home, go home. I tried to explain to him, no, we don’t have a home like that no more we can’t go back to our home.”
With little to no transportation, to make sure her oldest daughter gets to school on time, Belton says having extra help with food donations, and clothes that Cameron donated have made all the difference.
Cameron is also working on setting up an Uber gift card for the family to help with transportation as they do not have a car. Cameron says she is making a minimum a three-month commitment to the family, where she will be donating items for help.
“I don’t think you have to be rich to help somebody,” Cameron said.