Exchange Club gives a big helping hand to area charities

Lights brighten the sky at the Coastal Carolina Fair in Ladson.

Nearly 100 tri-county charities will receive checks totalling more than $800,000 from the Exchange Club of Charleston.

“We’re going to be giving away a lot of money tomorrow. It’s quite a day,” spokesman Joe Bolchez said Wednesday.

Beneficiaries will receive their checks at noon Thursday at the Holliday Alumni Center at The Citadel. The 97 recipients include Darkness To Light, the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center, the Lowcountry Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and hospice groups.

The club’s 58th Coastal Carolina Fair raised the funds for the grants. In five years, the Exchange Club-sponsored fair has generated $3.5 million for charitable organizations.

More than 225,000 people went to the fair in 2014. Attendance last year was hurt by two days of bad weather, Bolchez said.

The amount of money that the Exchange Club raised through the 2014 fair is about the same as the year before, he said.

About 150 groups applied this year for an Exchange Club grant. A club committee reviews the requests and decides who gets what.

“It’s one of the toughest jobs to do,” Bolchez said.

All of the net income from the fair goes to improving the fairgrounds and to local charities.