Thumbs up to unity. It prevailed Monday at a Florence City Council meeting when two civil rights activist groups in Florence pledged to work together in future planning of MLK Day marches. The previous week there was tension when it appeared each of the two groups wanted to hold their own walk on MLK Day. Organizers of the “Annual MLK March for Freedom and Justice” – an event led by late Councilman Ed Robinson for 17 years – weren’t happy about the formation of a separate march. Tim Waters, a local activist and confidant of Robinson, initially applied for accommodations tax dollars and requested a permit to hold additional MLK Day marches that would meet with the other group in downtown Florence. Ultimately he withdrew his requests for funding and canceled plans for another march. “Social change is never easy," he said. "I came up with an idea that’s different, and that wasn’t received well. That group is a great group of people and a great group of friends. We may not always see eye-to-eye, but we all want the same thing. We can heal from this and make Florence what it needs to be.” Former City Councilman Billy D. Williams, an organizer of the original march, said there is always room for suggestions. “We are one Florence,” he said. “There’s no winner or loser here. There was simply a misunderstanding that I think we’ve brought some closure to. We’ll move on, and more importantly, we’ll come together and iron out any differences. We all live together, we worship together, we work together and we can all march together.” Wow. If only disagreements could be resolved regularly like this. This year’s march will be called the Annual MLK March in Remembrance of Councilman Ed Robinson. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 16. The march will begin at Shekinah Glory Seventh Day Adventist Church on Oakland Avenue. It will continue toward Lucas Street, cross over the MLK Bridge, make a right onto Cheves Street, a left onto Dargan Street and conclude with a program at the Poynor Adult Education facility.

Thumbs up to the Salvation Army. We appreciate the good work it does all year to help those in our community who need assistance. The organization does great work this time of year, running the Empty Stocking Fund and the Red Kettle program. Donations of money and toys to the Empty Stocking Fund go toward children in the Angel Tree program who are not adopted and ensure they will still be able to receive toys and gifts for the holidays. Salvation Army officials hoped the Empty Stocking Fund will help more than 600 children in need this year. But we reported some disappointing news early this week. Donations being made to the Empty Stocking Fund this year are lagging in comparison to last year. But here’s the good news: You can still help. Monetary donations and toys for the Empty Stocking Fund can be brought now until Christmas Day to the Salvation Army at 2210 Hoffmeyer Road or to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Center at 1611 S. Irby St. Toys should be unwrapped so the type and age appropriateness can be verified. Checks should be made payable to the Salvation Army with “Empty Stocking Fund” written on the memo line. The hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Salvation Army office and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Christmas Center.

Thumbs up to the DuPont Retirees of Florence. The group once again made a nice contribution to local charities during the Christmas season. The group raised $3,834 which was awarded Wednesday to four different deserving groups: Lighthouse Ministries, House of Hope of the Pee Dee, Harvest Hope Food Bank and Mercy Medicine Free Clinic.

Thumbs up to the local folks who organize the Wreaths Across America program in Florence. The annual ceremony is scheduled to begin at noon Saturday at the Florence National Cemetery. This year, re-enactors the Sons of Union Veterans and the Sons of Confederate Veterans will participate to give the ceremony a living history component. They will be in period costumes from the Civil War through the Vietnam War and they'll be walking around after the ceremony in Sections 9 and 10, by the committal shelter in the new section. If you go, get there early. The Blue Star Mothers will be escorted in at approximately 11:50 a.m. Following the program, more than 4,000 wreaths will be deployed at markers in both the old and new sections of the cemetery. Wreaths for sponsored graves will be placed along with extras that will be placed on the graves of approximately 3,000 unknown soldiers.

Thumbs up, thumbs down is a regular feature of the Morning News and appears each Saturday on our Opinion page. We seek nominations for both good and bad deeds from our readers. Send nominations to us by email at Be sure use the word “thumb” in the subject and include a contact number. Thumbs can also be mailed to us c/o The Morning News, 310 S. Dargan St., Florence, S.C., 29506.

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