New women’s group out to help.

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 1, 2013 at 2:27 PM

There’s a new operation in town, and they’re up to doing good.

Operation Love, a group of “like-minded women,” has been organized to help meet community needs. They’ve begun with some of the community’s youngest members. And they’re off to an impressive start.

Operation Love was organized in November and by the end of December had collected and distributed more than 1,000 pairs of new socks to local schoolchildren in need.

The group wrote in last week to express their “deepest gratitude to everyone who contributed” to the sock drive and to announce their latest project, a drive for new toboggans, hats, scarves and gloves for the same group of children — students in grades K-12 whose needs are identified by the Johnson City and Washington County school systems and by the Johnson City Washington County Boys & Girls Club.

Their request is for donations of new hats, scarves and gloves to be dropped off at Atlantis, the downtown shop located at 242 E. Main St., Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. The drive began Jan. 9 and will continue through Feb. 28.

“With the weather we’re having, we definitely need them,” Operation Love member Sandra Deacon said Wednesday.

According to Deacon, the first batch of donated hats, scarves and gloves has already been dropped off at the Boys & Girls Club, which contacted Operation Love to alert them to the need.

Judging by the success of the inaugural project, it’s a good bet a lot of children will be warmer when this one is done. And the even better news is Operation Love will repeat both drives at the same time next winter.

Deacon said the group has learned quickly that there are many generous people and businesses in the community who want to help but don’t know how. Operation Love was organized to help them network, she said. And so far they’ve gathered contact information for 64 of them who want to stay abreast of their projects and on their mailing list.

Their plan is to conduct a project every two months for a total of six projects annually that will be conducted at the same time each year so the community will come to recognize their efforts.

“We started with children because that seems to be the greatest need right now,” Deacon said. They’re still working to identify other needs and projects to address but have come to a consensus that the Safe Passage Domestic Violence Shelter will be in their future. Otherwise, they’re open to suggestions.

Operation Love will decide on its next project at its next monthly meeting. Any woman who wishes to help or to learn more about their efforts is invited to join them at Atlantis on the third Wednesday of every month. For more information about how to participate in the current drive or in future projects, call Sandra Deacon at 434-2206 or Atlantis owner Kay McClain at 926-8884.

If you’ve noticed the patches of green spraypaint that recently appeared on the asphalt all around downtown Johnson City and wondered, it is not the markings of another stormwater project on deck. It is not the work of a mysterious graffiti artist. It’s shamrocks, and its a sure sign the annual Chasing Snakes 10K to help the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Johnson City help homeless families is lining up.

The 2013 Chasing Snakes 10K Charity Road Race and 4K Fitness Walk & Fun Run will be run Saturday morning, March 16, from the parking lot at St. John’s Episcopal Church, all around the town, past the IHN center on West Fairview Avenue and back to the church.

Registration forms and maps of the USATF-certified 10K road course and the 4K fun run route are available online at www.chasingsnakes10k.com. And for those who wonder if they’re up to the challenge, “St. Practice Day” group runs are planned for Feb. 9, Feb. 23, and March 9, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the church at 500 N. Roan St. Course maps, registration forms and refreshments will be available at each of the practice runs.

The advance registration fee is $20 or $19 for State of Franklin Track Club members who register early, and $25 for all on the weekend of the race.

Hosted by St. John’s Episcopal, the race is held annually on the Saturday closest to St. Patrick’s Day. This year the benefit will also include a Friday Night Irish Dinner with entertainment by the ETSU Celtic Band to begin at 5:30 p.m. March 15 at the church. The cost of the dinner is $5.

All proceeds will go to IHN, a network of dozens of area churches and hundreds of volunteers who together provide shelter, meals and long- term support to help homeless families with children regain their ability to maintain a home.

More information about the benefit may be obtained online or by calling the church at 926-8141. More information about IHN may be obtained by calling 202-7805 or online at www.ihnjc.org.

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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