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Cornelius: Joining others in serving the poor all year
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Georgia Mountain Food Bank

Where: Hollis Transport & Logistics, 4515 Cantrell Road, Flowery Branch, GA 30542

Phone: 770-967-0075

Website: www.gamountainfoodbank.org

Joan King offered a promising suggestion last week: A group of high school students should fix up an old clunker for a poor family so their would-be bread winner could overcome this Catch-22: Without a car, it's hard to hold down a decent job, but it's hard to save for a car unless you've got a job.

Helping a poor family this way seems doable, though, as Mrs. King noted, there could be legal or other obstacles. If her idea doesn't pan out, maybe the young people could come up with an alternative. If they could help just one family with reliable transportation, what a boon it would be for that family.

When I was much younger, I used to sneer at such small efforts as inadequate in the face of the poverty I saw around me. But wiser people eventually taught me the folly of focusing on only the big picture. Each child fed, each child clothed, each man or woman getting a good job, each family helped is a plus.

Mrs. King's idea could become a success and join the many other successes here in Hall County.

Of course, this long recession makes it difficult for a would-be bread winner, and many other people, to get a decent job. It has kept some of the poor, poor; it has increased their number as well as the number of those barely hanging on to middle-class life.

So lots of people count on traditional help. Much is available here every week of the year.

Some 1,600 families get food from Free Chapel each month: canned goods, pasta, beans — the mix varies depending of what is donated. (You can see the line of cars forming at the older facility on McEver around 3 p.m. Thursday afternoons; hundreds of families count on this food to get them from week to week.)

A number of food banks operate in Hall and surrounding counties. They dispense food donated from businesses, notably what The Georgia Mountain Food Bank gets to them from growers and distributors, and from members and what some buy themselves.

Five churches operate the South Hall Community Food Pantry in Oakwood. The Chattahoochee Baptist Association operates the Good Samaritan Food Bank.

To locate these and other food banks in the county call the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, which also serves Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin, and Union counties, at 770-967-0075. The food bank will also give you a phone number and any instructions you might need.

Doctors and dentists offer free care at Good News Clinics, 810 Pine Street SW, which gets support from the United Way, churches and foundations.

Good News on Davis Street serves scores of meals daily, and is supported by businesses and churches, including First Baptist, First Presbyterian, Lakewood and many others.

Volunteers from the community fix the food and serve it.

Good News also provides a pantry where poor families can get a box of food.

Gainesville Action Ministries, a cooperative effort of more than 20 local churches, works with families who face being evicted or having their utilities shut off and works with them on the longer term. It also offers referrals to food banks and other agencies and offers other services.

The Times has recently published a series of stories on volunteers, some of whom help the poor, such as Under the Bridge Ministries, and Meals on Wheels delivering meals to the homes of the elderly, some of whom are in great need.

When we speak of the need to care for the poor we don't mean just locally, we also mean in places of extreme poverty such as Haiti and elsewhere, where our men and women and doctors from this area provide much help. But that is a story for another day.

The needs are great here in Hall County and the counties around us.

And hundreds and hundreds of men and women are offering help to others week after week all through the year. But there is always more to do, always a need for more money, a need for more food, a need for more help.

After the holidays can be a tough time to dig down deeper. But if we're still eating well, we're doing better than many.

Consider what little things can do for someone in need: $5 or $10 of gas money. A couple of cartons of eggs. Five or 10 pounds of beans and rice.

These can make a big difference in a family's life, day by day.

I also thought about what I would most like to get if someone were giving me food to get by on. While I love rice, I would also like to get a sack of potatoes now and then along with cornmeal

Tack Cornelius is a member of Pine Crest Baptist Church and a Gainesville resident. His column appears occasionally.

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