FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) – The Ruiz 4 Kids annual Louis F. Ruiz fundraiser was cancelled this year due to Covid-19, but that didn’t stop them from awarding nearly $53,000 in scholarship money to Florence area seniors.

The scholarship recipients include graduates from: Lake City High, Wilson High School, West Florence High School, South Florence High School, Darlington High School, Marion High School, Latta High School, The King’s Academy, Dillion High School, Florence Christian, Hartsville High School, Johnsonville High School, Hannah Pamplico High School … and more.

Ryan Barber, graduate from West Florence High School told News13 that he wasn’t expecting to receive the scholarship money, but he is so thankful.

“It excites me that big companies really do care about people in the areas that they are surrounded in. So I’m really thankful for them on being able to help me out and paying for my school,” Barber says. Ryan will be attending Clemson University where he will major in general engineering.

Due to Covid-19, all sport functions were brought to a halt which initially meant a pause in getting scholarship money to graduating seniors who applied for it.

Krista Meekins, Florence Ruiz BOD, says she was sadden by that but happy that everything still worked out.

“With everything that the seniors had to deal with this year I was just so thankful that we could still support so many local students because I’m sure there were surprises because of everything going on who would think they could still be supported  but I’m just so glad that we could,” Meekins says.

A few local business owners donated to the scholarship fund which helped 50 Florence area seniors receive scholarship money.

“I wasn’t afforded some of these opportunities. It’s good to see good corporate citizens are giving back and creating these good opportunities for our youth,” Luke Wilcox, Owner of Wilcox Office Mart.

For more information, please visit www.ruiz4kids.org.