1998: The Christ Central Aiken story began in 1998 when Brian and Robin Widener answered God’s call to minister to people in the Aiken/Graniteville area. They heard about a ministry in Columbia led by Pastor Jimmy Jones (https://christcentralministries.org/) whom they invited to come and meet with them. The Wideners located a rundown building on Richland Avenue that needed a lot of renovation, just like the lives of the people they were ministering to. Pastor Jimmy joined in faith with them and together Christ Central Ministries, Inc. Aiken was birthed in 1999.
The building at 3605 Richland Avenue West, Aiken, SC, has grown and developed over the years. Our mission is enriching the community by uniting volunteers to help people in need through food, clothing, prayer, education and job skill training. Christ Central Aiken/Graniteville is one ministry with two locations in Aiken and two locations in Graniteville. The Aiken Mission provides food boxes weekly for families on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Clothing vouchers for our thrift shop are offered seasonally. Emergency food boxes and clothing are provided daily as needed. People in crisis are encouraged by volunteers who offer to pray with them for their greatest needs or concerns. From the beginning, Saturday’s Kids Klub has provided a safe haven of help and fun for children ages 5 to 16.
2008: An after-school mentoring program was introduced for the Kids Klub children due to the high dropout rate in the SC public schools. One adult was matched with one child for one hour for the entire school year. This has been an overwhelming success for both the mentors and the children. We have seen almost all of the children graduate from high school, many of them were the first in their family to reach this goal. Kids Klub alumni are now working adults who have broken out of generational poverty and moving forward with their lives.
2011: Fast Track GED began in Aiken and we have seen 600 adults earn their GED. In addition, Fast Track GED and Work Keys are now offered at Hope Center in Graniteville on Mondays and Wednesdays. Students can earn their GED at no cost to them since expenses are paid by Christ Central. This averages about $650 per student but we believe the investment in lives is well worth the cost.
2014: A major addition to Christ Central’s ministry effort was the opening of Hope Center in Graniteville. The property was originally ground zero for the 2005 train derailment/chlorine spill that devastated the area. After 2000+ volunteer hours and over $750,000 invested, Hope Center became a reality: a teaching and training center to serve the citizens of Graniteville. It features a conference center, banquet facilities, fourteen classrooms, a library and a computer center.
2016: The Bridge Thrift Shoppe was opened. Located inside a renovated section of The Mission, The Bridge offers gently used clothing for low income shoppers plus unique gifts from local artisans for the general public. All proceeds are used to support programs that help those living in poverty cross the “bridge” to self-sufficiency.
2018: Another milestone for the ministry was reached when the SC Commission on Higher Education approved our license for Hope Center School in Graniteville. At the time, Hope Center School offered three areas of study: culinary arts for both restaurant cooks and pastry chefs and paralegal principles. These three trimester programs helped prepare students for lifetime job opportunities.
If you would like to volunteer, learn more about our programs or donate to Christ Central Aiken/Graniteville please contact us.
Christ Central Aiken relies primarily on private donations to support a $205,000 annual budget. We also accept Memorial Donations and many Employer Matching donation programs. And because we are a 501(c)(3) organization, you can even donate to Christ Central through your company’s United Way campaign.
Because CCMA is an all volunteer ministry and there are no paid positions, more than 74% of charitable contributions goes directly to programs and the people we strive to serve, a percentage that far exceeds the 65% standard set under national ethics guidelines for U.S. charities.
Every dollar of donation to Christ Central Aiken is carefully monitored with additional ongoing review by our Board of Advisors.