SUMTER, S.C. -- Mitt Romney reached into his pocket Saturday after a rally here and gave a handful of bills to an unemployed woman who started volunteering in his campaign offices this week.
Ruth Williams, 55, of Columbia, said she was at a stop sign along I-26 on Wednesday when she saw the Romney campaign bus pull through town in the Columbia area. "I was on the highway praying and said God tell me how to get [my house] lights on, and I pulled up to a stop sign and his bus was there," she said.
Williams said she followed the bus to the airport "because the Lord told me. It sounds strange but he really did. I mean God really talked to me about this."
The bus was picking up Romney after his New Hampshire primary win. Williams did not get to meet him upon his arrival, but aides told her to head to a rally in Columbia that evening, which she did.
Romney, briefed by his staff about her story, came over to talk to Williams after that rally. She spoke to him tearfully and asked him about his economic policies. "He was kind to me," she said. "He stopped doing everything." She told Romney she had a sick son and was looking for a job. "I told them about my problems and that I just want to work. I just want to work," she said.
Williams said she had been cleaning houses for home builders, but with the downturn in the housing market, had been unable to find work since October.
She said Romney took down her contact information and told her that perhaps the state of South Carolina would be able to help. She took down contact information for the campaign and found a warm welcome at his Columbia campaign headquarters the following day. She said she's been volunteering there ever since, cleaning and cooking collard greens for the staff.
On Saturday, Romney recognized Williams on a rope line here and handed her $50 or $60, according to his staff. Williams said it was the first time that she has directly received money from the campaign, but that South Carolina treasurer Curtis Loftis -- who chairs Romney's South Carolina campaign -- paid her light bill this week.
Williams said she has now met Romney three times, and has also met South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is campaigning with him in her state. "They really help people find jobs," Williams said, although she still needs one herself.