Coat giveaway for those in need

Sue Guinn Legg • Jan 3, 2013 at 8:46 AM

The Community Thrift Store in Jonesborough, a nonprofit operation of the Community Help Center of Northeast Tennessee, will be giving away coats to anyone in need through Jan. 31.

Holly Hummer, manager of the store at 612 W. Main St., said the store collected more than 600 coats during the holidays and will begin giving them away today under its big carport canopy near the intersection of West Main Street and Persimmon Ridge Road. Also this month, the store will conduct a prize drawing for a $20 gift card for gasoline to help customers who may be having trouble with transportation.

Hunter said the coat giveaway and the gas card drawing are the latest in a series of promotions through which the store hopes to provide services directly to those in need and to make more people aware that the thrift store is there to help them.

“Many people don’t know of our store and what we do to help others,” she said. “We are a nonprofit organization and all our sales go right back into helping others. We offer monthly and weekly events, as well as many giveaways and so much more.”

The store is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and carries a large selection of good used household furnishings and clothing.

All garments are priced at $1 each or $5 for a shopping bag full, with the exception of prom gowns, which are $10, and hospital scrubs, which are $3. All proceeds from the store go to the Community Help Center of Northeast Tennessee located in Sulphur Springs near the intersection of Highway 81 North and Highway 75.

The Help Center’s services include a large food pantry and clothes closet, emergency assistance with rent and utilities, job search assistance, financial and family counseling and more. For more information about the center, call 788-0050. For more information about the Community Thrift Store, call Hummer at 741-9442.

Second Harvest Food Bank and the many community pantries it assists are experiencing their annual post-holiday slump. With their shelves drained by large Thanksgiving and Christmas food distributions and the higher cost of utilities that comes with cold weather increasing the need for food assistance, the food bank and its partner agencies are in need of a New Year’s boost.

“The holidays are over but the need for food continues. It’s greater than ever, especially this time of year when a lot of people are having to choose between paying their power bill and buying food,” said Kathy Smith, communications director of Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee.

According to Smith, the latest census figures show all eight counties of the Northeast Tennessee region exceed the national average of 15.3 percent of the population living in poverty. Four of the eight counties have poverty percentages of 20 percent or more and one county is at more than twice the national average.

For these and many other reasons, Smith said, “the food bank is encouraging people to remember the need for food is year-round.”

For those who wish to help, monetary donations, food drives and volunteer support for the food bank and community pantries throughout the region are especially needed at this time. Donations to the food bank may be made online at www.netfoodbank.org or by mail to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, 127 Dillon Court, Gray, TN 37615. For a reference to a community pantry in your area or more information about how to help, call the food bank at 477-4053.

The nonprofit Hand Up program that assists local residents in emergency need of help heating their homes is also experiencing the seasonal spike in requests for its help.

Lester Lattany, president and CEO of the United Way of Washington County, which administers the program, said this year’s jump in applications for Hand Up’s help with past due power and gas bills, heating oil, coal and wood has led the program to increase its maximum monthly allocation by $15,000 beginning in December.

Those in need of the program’s help may apply for assistance by contacting Good Samaritan Ministries at 928-0288 or at 100 N. Roan St., or the Salvation Army at 926-2101 or at 204 W. Walnut St.

Customers of the Johnson City Power Board and Atmos Energy may make donations to the Hand Up program with the payment of their gas or electricity bills. Or donations earmarked for Hand Up may be mailed to the United Way at P.O. Box 4039, Johnson City, TN 37602.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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