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Good News at Noon in need of more money for expansion
Lexi Bravo, 7, watches people eat Thanksgiving dinner at the Good News at Noon shelter during food service for the hungry Thursday morning. The Good News at Noon homeless shelter is trying to raise $235,000 to buy about 2.5 acres of adjoining land to expand its ministries.

Good News at Noon fundraising campaign

When: Now through Dec. 20

How: Send a check to Good News at Noon, P.O. Box 1577, Gainesville, GA 30503

More info:

The Good News at Noon shelter has less than 30 days to raise $209,000 so it can expand its community services.

Prayers were answered in October when shelter staff and volunteers realized more than 2.5 acres of land adjacent to the shelter was for sale. The property, which has four buildings on it, was once valued close to $1 million and is under contract for $235,000. The shelter has raised $26,000 so far and has until Dec. 20 to collect the rest.

“Mr. (Gene Beckstein) has been praying over that land since he started this ministry,” said longtime volunteer Debbie Parker. “He has wanted that land.”

Beckstein started feeding the hungry in 1987, and the Christian ministries that grew out of that turned into a private nonprofit that continues to help more people. Good News provides free meals for lunch and dinner everyday and shelter for 20 men in a sober living environment. The nonprofit also donates groceries and clothes and offers a youth ministry.

The vision for the additional land is to take the existing steel buildings and renovate them to expand the shelter’s ministries. One building would be a youth center. Another building would be turned into a gymnasium for the children and youth ministry with a soccer field built nearby. There’s also a vision for a pavilion where people could eat outside together.

“The vision is all about the kids and helping them grow,” said Hannah Parker, director of the youth ministry. She is the daughter of Debbie and Ben Parker, who have both volunteered at Good News for about 15 years. “The Lord opened the door to us to get that land under contract.”

About 50 children are involved in the ministry, and they currently play outside on concrete. Debbie said the goal is to start tutoring kids and teaching life skills, now limited to the men’s program.

“These kids love soccer,” she said. “They’ll kick the ball all day long in the parking lot. But wouldn’t be amazing if they had somewhere safe to come and just play soccer on the field.”

Expanding the programs could help more local residents break the cycle of poverty.

“What are your hopes and dreams?” Debbie asked. “We can help you get there.”

Ben Parker said he’s already received offers from construction companies to help with some of the buildings as a contribution, and has the donation of a gym interior from Cleveland, Ohio. The extra room could help Good News to become more organized and efficient in the services it provides, he said.

“(The land) wraps around us like a piece of cellophane,” Ben said.

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