SC Treasurer Loftis visits Spartanburg Soup Kitchen

From the Spartanburg Herald Journal

Treasurer Curtis Loftis visits Spartanburg Soup Kitchen
By Kim Kimzey
Thursday, August 1, 2013

South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis put on vinyl industrial gloves Thursday and got to work. He doled out servings of shrimp salad at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen.

“Some people go on vacation, but for 10 years of my life, I did this type of work,” Loftis, who's seeking re-election next year, said.

Loftis established the Saluda Charitable Foundation between his retirement and his election as state treasurer. The Christian organization operates a soup kitchen in the Ukraine. Loftis said he used to make monthly trips there before he was elected.

On Thursday, he presented a $350 check to the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen on behalf of the foundation.

Spartanburg Soup Kitchen Director Lou Landrum plans to use the donation for the children's ministry, which provides bags of food to children before they leave the soup kitchen. Landrum said those bags of food are crucial, and the soup kitchen has been providing 80 bags of food each day to children.

Landrum said the money would allow her to order more food to ensure that the children are fed. She said she would hate for siblings to share a single bag. “It would devastate me,” she said.

Landrum said volunteers have been “baffled” at the unusually high numbers of meals being served in recent days. She said the soup kitchen served more than 1,000 trays of food to visitors on Monday and Tuesday.

After he finished serving, Loftis gave out food bags to children.

“I love this work,” Loftis said. “Politics for me is just an extension of service work. I love my job now, but there are obviously downsides to politics.” Loftis said the greatest drawback is “the search for the truth. … There are so many ways that money is taken from the people of South Carolina and spent improperly.”

He said politicians who advocate for smaller government and more efficiency also protect friends' contracts. He said he loves his position, but it's much more difficult than he anticipated, and he has few allies. “South Carolina's not a rich state. We're a working class people. We don't need to pay high investment fees; we don't need to pay more for a computer than we should,” he said.

Loftis came face-to-face with the financially disadvantaged at the soup kitchen. He heard stories from the dozens of people he served. He said one man told him that he had just lost his job. One person traveling from Florida to New York stopped there for a meal, and another visitor moved here in search of work. Loftis met several with disabilities.

He will likely hear many other stories as he mingles more with residents and shares his own story.

“We've lowered fees at the investment commission. We put contracts out for bid that have saved millions of dollars. We now have the best college savings program in the country,” he said.

Loftis said he's seeking re-election because he believes it's his responsibility. If re-elected, he said his top priorities will remain the same — “to bring transparency and accountability to state government, how we manage that money, and thereby you protect the people's money.”

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