Local ministry fills a void after Whitmire grocery store closure

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Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 8:43 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2022 at 10:24 PM EST

NEWBERRY, S.C. (WIS) - When the Piggly Wiggly in Whitmire closed on Friday, the void became immediately clear.

“The Pig” as it was affectionately known to residents, was the last remaining grocery store in the small town.

Residents say the closure leaves the largely elderly population in town without a grocery store, and with a large transportation barrier to reach others.

The town is surrounded by the Sumter National Forest, creating an approximate 45-minute round-trip travel time to nearby towns for grocery shopping.

All that remains now for groceries in the area, is a Dollar General.

“Convenience stores, they jack their prices up as soon as something like this closes down.” Preston Lee said, in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly the day before it closed.

”I hate to see it go. It’s been here about all my lifetime. " another shopper said, echoing the feelings of many longtime residents.

In Whitmire, with the closure of the Piggly Wiggly, it’s now nearly 20 miles between the town and the nearest full-service grocery store either in Union or Newberry.

Living Hope Foundation, a local charity seeks to fill that gap not only for the less fortunate, but also the elderly and shut-ins.

The agency offers delivery options in addition to a food pantry that they operate every Thursday at the New Enoree Baptist Church outside Newberry.

”It’s free. It’s not something where they have to come down with monies,” the director of Living Hope Foundation, John Glasgow said. “We don’t charge anybody for anything. Everything we do is absolutely donated to that family.”

Glasgow says the closure of the Piggly Wiggly in Whitmire will drive up demand.

”I feel it’s gonna increase the activity, or the need and that’s why we want to be visible. So people know we are available to fulfill those needs,” he said.

And it would appear his agency is already doing just that.

On a typical Thursday, the ministry serves approximately 50 families or about 200 people.

All of the items are donated through partnerships with local grocery stores and Feeding America. One cart at a time, reaching one heart at a time.

Helping hands like these are more vital than ever, in a place now hungry for hope.

”There’s a need. We want to make sure through what we do, that we serve the needs of the people. That’s really our motto: to serve the needs of the community,” Glasgow said.

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