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September 2019
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Progress readers’ coat donations leave a woman in tears

By Dan Pool, editor
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    The readers of this newspaper who donated to the Holy Spirit Ranch Winter coat drive left a woman in tears Friday – the good kind of tears.
     Virginia Betts of Holy Spirit Ranch literally cried when she saw the overflowing drop-off box of coats, warm clothes and blankets at our Main Street office.
    Virginia and her husband Joe Betts - founder and minister of Holy Spirit Ranch - hugged every member of the staff, thanking us for the coats. Even as they repeatedly hugged our editor, photo editor, office manager, publisher and anyone else who wandered close to the commotion in our front office, we reminded them it wasn’t the Progress that gave the coats, it was the readers of this newspaper.
    All we did was put a decorated cardboard box in our lobby and publicize the need - it was the readers who filled it. While the announced deadline passed Friday, another large pile of coats showed up Monday – bringing the total to more than 70, with substantial piles of blankets and hats and scarves as well. A fair number of the coats were brand new, still bearing tags from stores.
    When Betts told me about the need for warm winter coats for his ministry, which serves local people, homeless people in Atlanta and Native Americans in South Dakota, I was pretty sure the community would open their closets for him.
    I was confident that we could help Betts round up the needed coats as I have worked at this newspaper for a long time and know that when people need things, the people in Pickens County are generous. I hear repeatedly from places like Good Sam, The Thrift Store and CARES (the Food Pantry) that there is an unusually benevolent streak in these Appalachian foothills.
    And, once again, the people of Pickens County delivered. The box didn’t fill up quite as quickly as I had initially predicted. We did increase the size of the coat drive announcement in the paper last week to be sure the box would be overflowing and, in the end, there was a supply we were proud of.
    Mr. Betts exclaimed several times, “Look what the Lord has provided.” Yes, He surely did, and if you are one of the people who gave be proud of your part in it. Mr. Betts is now one more person who will sing the praises of how generous people here are. On Main Street Friday while loading his station wagon, Betts gushed about how he had lived all over this country and there is no better community than right here. A letter from Betts appears on page 14A.
    As cold as this winter is shaping up to be,  the coats will fill an urgent need. “When you give someone a coat and they are cold, it means more than you can imagine,” Betts said.
    If you didn’t get a chance to give during this effort, don’t despair, Thanksgiving and Christmas are both ripe with needs from with many organizations seeking help for good causes.
    You can be sure we’ll keep publicizing needs and we can be sure you’ll keep filling boxes. Thanks for making this such a generous place to live.

    [Editor’s Note: due to several late calls, we’ll keep the Holy Spirit drop off box until November 22.]