Corps Renovations, Aisle 22

By: Major Frank Duracher

The prayers of Spartanburg Soldiers were answered when Lowe’s Home Improvement corporation came through in a huge way for this South Carolina Corps. “100 Hometowns” is a celebration of the Lowe’s centennial, setting aside $10 million for 100 impact projects in 36 states. The company combed through more than 2,200 submissions nationwide, finally settling on the finalists — three of which are Salvation Army units in the Southern Territory (Spartanburg; Miami Area Command, Florida; Abilene, Texas).

For the Spartanburg Corps, the great need was for refurbishing the 50 year-old building in addition to improving safety features for children participating in community center activities. The top amount of $200,000 was awarded to the corps, providing an avenue to replace an HVAC unit for the gymnasium, interior and exterior painting, replacement of blinds, carpeting in various areas, and landscaping.

“Also, for the safety of our kids, we installed 23 door windows and installed a surveillance camera system,” says Captain Samuel Kim, Spartanburg Corps Officer.

Arriving in Spartanburg in June 2020, Captains Kim soon realized the need for renovations if additional community center programs, such as a basketball league and music instruction, could proceed.

Captain Christine Kim adds, “So, we asked our corps members to say simple prayers each day for Corps building renovations.”

God came through — and how!

By the time the Kims heard about the Lowe’s grant, only one week to the deadline remained. Captain Samuel feverishly worked on the application, and to everyone’s surprise the prize was granted.

If that were the end of the story, it would be impressive enough — but there is more. 

The Salvation Army’s partnership with three Lowe’s stores in Spartanburg County became so good, the company donated a lawnmower, a power washer, drills, and other tools and hardware after the project was completed in late 2021.

Also, 25 employees from the three stores volunteered for what Lowe’s corporation terms “Red Vest Impact Tuesday.” These volunteers, in addition to others drafted by Captain Samuel, save money that would have been spent on labor. An amount nearly as much as the cost of materials.

“They came (to the corps) to install all window blinds, interior painting, and the landscaping,” Captain Samuel says.

A reporter from News 7 came out to interview us and our event was on local news many times on that day.”

 “In addition, about a week before Christmas, one of the Lowe’s managers called me with word that their employees would like to donate holiday meals to ten large families,” Captain Christine says, “which we delivered by Christmas Eve.”

“We are inspired by the nationwide response to ‘100 Hometowns,’ which brought people from all across the country to share with us their remarkable stories and hope for how their community might be made a little better,” states Marvin R. Ellison, Lowe’s chairman and CEO. “Lowe’s has been dedicated to improving homes, and hometowns, since its founding in 1921, and we look forward to continuing to do so for the next 100 years.”

It appears that the Spartanburg Corps is on a roll. Additional grants and large donations are received for additional renovation projects within that command in two South Carolina counties, Spartanburg and Union.

“While Samuel was taking care of all the Lowe’s ‘100 Hometowns’ building project, we also received a $90,000 grant from Timken Foundation for a building renovation project for our family store & social service in Union County,” Captain Christine explains.

Other individuals also donated about $20,000 for the building renovation project, and it is still an ongoing project right now, she says. Presently, the biggest need is for the Army’s Family Store and Social Service office in Union county.

The building has a history of problems with roof leaks and for years, but the lack of capital funds could not fix the problem. Addressing that issue is now at the top of the agenda.

Captain Samuel admits that even with his faith in God to answer prayers, he did harbor a bit of doubt when he submitted the grant application to Lowe’s back in April 2021. Even some advisory board members were skeptical.

But that all changed when word was received in August that the money was on the way.

“When the news (of the Lowe’s grant) was shared with the corps family, we were singing God’s praises and thinking that how could this blessing be possible,” Captain Christine marvels. “First, we want to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness. Secondly, we want to recognize help from Hugh Mathis (formerly of the North & South Carolina DHQ development department before he passed away in June 2021). He was well-known to the Army and many donors and businesses in our area and the southeast region of South Carolina.”

“We also recognize our corps members for their continuing prayers,” Captain Samuel concludes. “To God be the glory!”