The friendship between sister cities Columbia, Miss., and Columbia, S.C., has grown in recent years, as the two have aided each other during difficult times.
Residents of the South Carolina city helped here after the 2014 tornado, and when flood waters ravaged there several years ago, Columbia, Miss., residents reciprocated.
Now with Hurricane Florence dumping torrential rains across the Carolinas, local residents will have the chance to help. Hearts of Hope Founder Carlton Thornhill and others will be at the Marion County Courthouse from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday to collect cards and cash. Even though Columbia, S.C., was spared serious damage, the proceeds will be delivered there to be distributed elsewhere in the Carolinas where the need is great.
“Saturday will be a day of Columbia for Columbia,” Thornhill said. “What we’re trying to do is just collect money and gift cards, whether it be Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target ... It doesn’t matter. If kids want to collect at school, or organizations and clubs, offices, we will be a clearing house for it.”
They’ll have a hot dog stand, and the group “Southbound” will perform. They’ll also be painting Stars of Hope Saturday, which are sent to disaster areas as expressions of goodwill.
“You can no longer collect at intersections and block them, but you can pull over at the Marion County Courthouse and not have to get out of the car,” Thornhill said Monday. “We’re trying to make it convenient and easy for anyone that wants to contribute. Columbia, S.C., contacted me this morning, and they are actually better off than they expected, but they are setting up a base there for them to go to the hardest hit areas so they can be our messenger and we don’t have to go into places we don’t know to hand this stuff out. They are going to be our arms and legs.”
Thornhill said he made contact with friends in South Carolina as it became evident Florence would hit.
“I spoke with them and through the mayor’s office, I made contact with the governor’s office, too,” he said. “I told them we were going to start something. The storm went straight over Columbia. There are some areas that are heavily damaged.”
For more information about the event or to contribute, contact Thornhill at (601) 408-5165.
Thornhill said the cities have a special bond because settlers from South Carolina came here in the early 19th century.
“When you go to Columbia, S.C., you can see the similarities,” he said. “The terrain is very much like here. You can see why they settled here. It’s beautiful.”
Pictured Above: The City of Columbia issued a proclamation Tuesday for the Day of Hope Saturday. From left are Aldermen Ed Hough and Mike Smith, Stephanie Guidroz and Carlton Thornhill of Stars of Hope, Mayor Justin McKenzie, City Attorney Lawrence Hahn and Aldermen Anna Evans and Wendell Hammond. | Photo by Mark Rogers