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A Helping Hand in Hard Times: The Story of the Florence Benevolent Association

Florence Benevolent Association

Unearthing the past reveals a time of hardship in Florence, but also a beacon of compassion: the Florence Benevolent Association. Founded in the early 1890s, and dedicated to aiding residents facing misfortune, this organization offered a lifeline to those struggling with illness, poverty, and homelessness.

Their mission, as clear as their name, was "To Relieve Want." They understood the devastating impact of sickness, leaving families unable to work and children without schooling due to lack of clothing and supplies. The Association took action, collecting used clothing, school books, and providing direct aid during times of crisis.

Their signature event, "Benevolence Day," held annually on December 3rd, mobilized the community. The Presbyterian church bells would ring, a call to action for residents to donate clothing, food, and money.

But the stories transcend statistics. A 1916 plea paints a poignant picture of the individuals the Association helped. A single mother struggling to support five children after her daughter's illness. A widow with a young son, both relying on the kindness of strangers. A family ravaged by typhoid, with a young girl, their “beloved and saintly little nurse,” now critically ill herself. These are just a few examples of the struggles the Association bravely addressed.

The Association never shied away from the urgency of their work. Their appeals were direct: "What are YOU going to do about it?" They challenged the community to step up - with a one-time donation, a monthly contribution, or any amount they could afford.

The Florence Benevolent Association stands as a testament to the power of community in the face of hardship. Their legacy reminds us of the importance of compassion and the responsibility we have towards one another.