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Upstate residents continue support for nonprofits during coronavirus pandemic

The nonprofit world has been shaken during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the survival of many organizations in question. But as charities across the nation began shutting their doors earlier this year, Miracle Hill Ministries never stopped helping the Upstate community and those experiencing homelessness.

Miracle Hill is among the nonprofit organizations benefiting from this year’s Caring for the Carolinas Season of Hope presented by 7News, CW62, Ingles, Bath Fitter and Unclaimed Furniture. The Greenville-based organization oversees ministries for children and the homeless, and offers addiction recovery programs throughout Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.

“When COVID first hit the scene in February and March, we were very concerned for our population of guests. Nobody really knew how deadly COVID was,” said President & CEO Ryan Duerk. “We feel that, at this point in time, our services are needed now more than ever. We’ve kept our doors open, continued to bring people in, but with some safeguards in place – social distancing where we can, masks, taking temperatures.”

Adjusting to new ways of doing business include asking volunteers to stay home for the safety of shelter guests, staff and volunteers, Duerk said. It also meant closing Miracle Hill’s eight revenue-producing thrift stores for a period of time to comply with SC Governor Henry McMaster’s April 6 executive order closing non-essential businesses.

“The public has been absolutely amazing. They never stopped donating to us,” Duerk said. “Even when the stores were shut down, we had to keep two people on staff to receive the donations that people were just dropping on the back docks.”

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Since reopening, thrift store donations and sales have remained strong, he said.

Operations are again being tested as colder temperatures move into the Upstate. Miracle Hill’s policy calls for no one to be turned away from its shelters when temperatures drop below 40 degrees. That often can result in a 100-person-per-night increase.

“While colder temperatures have complicated operations, we are social distancing mats, checking temperatures when people come in the door, and setting up quarantine areas within our shelters,” Duerk said.

Miracle Hill officials are hopeful that shelter workers will be placed in the group of first responders when the coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

“Shelter programs are one of the only congregate living situations left in our society – hospitals, military and shelters – so we really want to make sure we can get a vaccine to our staff and to our guests who are immunocompromised and suffering,” Duerk said.

With Christmas fast approaching, Duerk encourages Upstate residents to consider making a donation to a local nonprofit.

“I would encourage everyone, that If you don’t support Miracle Hill, support a nonprofit this time of year. Nonprofits are on the front lines trying to provide for the least and the lost, and one of the easy ways to do that – especially during COVID – is to come alongside people financially.”

For more information on the programs of Miracle Hill Ministries, visit miraclehill.org.

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