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Act of kindness breaks up reports of violence in county

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By Barbara Rutledge

I have to admit since the first of July we’ve had some tragic news to report. A retired police officer was shot while trying to help accident victims. A Pageland man was sentenced to 30 years for the death of an epileptic man whose body was dumped in Heath Springs.

Then there was the shooting death of the owner of the Cedar Creek Bait and Tackle Shop. The shooter took refuge in his home and fired off some shots before taking his own life.

One man was shot and killed, another wounded in a bizarre incident in front of officers on Memorial Park Road. There have been multiple break-ins throughout the county leaving many people feeling helpless.

These senseless acts of violence are disheartening. And it is easy to become jaded.

Then something happens to renew our trust in others. Such was the case last week. On July 9, we published a letter from Debra Blackmon who wanted to warn others not to leave grocery carts loaded with paid-for items unattended. Blackmon and her friend, who both recently lost their jobs, paid for their groceries at Bi-Lo, moved the cart to the side and were helping her friend’s mother with her groceries when someone took their cart.

While they will struggle financially, Blackmon’s philosophy is that whoever took their groceries needed them so she hopes they enjoyed the food.

On July 15, I got a call from a reader who wanted to send Blackmon a Bi-Lo gift card.

“I worked for Springs for more than 40 years and I had to raise my children alone,” the reader said. “I feel so bad for people who have lost their jobs.”

The reader wants to remain anonymous.

“If I am named then that is my reward,” she said. “That’s not the reward I want.”

Blackmon was surprised when I called her. The reader had two stipulations – don’t buy alcohol and don’t buy cigarettes. Blackmon said they don’t smoke or drink.

“Please tell her thank you,” a grateful Blackmon said. “That is so nice. The only way I could come to terms with it is I just figured whoever took the groceries probably needed them.”

Blackmon and her friend were working in Columbia when the project they were working on was completed.

“We’ve been trying to find work, but there are no jobs.”

That same day I had another call from a woman who works with Angel Food Ministries who had some food for Blackmon. I got the two together and they worked out the details.

I received the gift card in the mail from the anonymous donor and forwarded it to Blackmon. Along with the gift card was a copy of the scripture verse Matthew 25: 35-36. “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.”

As I backed the envelope containing the gift card and note to Blackmon, reporters were tracking down information about the suspicious fires in Tradesville.

No, crime doesn’t stop.

But neither does hope.