BY O.J. EARLY
The 2013 Christmas Coal Fund Campaign, which began Thanksgiving Day, is drawing to a close.
But Greene County residents who struggle to stay warm will reap the benefits of generous contributors for the rest of winter.
A total of $110,810.90 has been donated to the Coal Fund, an annual campaign sponsored by The Greeneville Sun to provide funds to help local residents in needy circumstances to heat their homes during the cold months.
Carmen Ricker, longtime executive director of Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries, has seen plenty of county families that battle the cold every winter.
An example: A family of five that was recently assisted by this year's Coal Fund.
"He works, and she draws a disability check," Ricker said. "Due to extenuating circumstances, the daughter, son-in-law and grandchild had to move into the household."
The family requested propane to heat their home.
"Presently the parents are looking for work, but in the meantime, five people are living on an income of two," Ricker said.
"Due to the extra financial burden, without help, there was not money to purchase propane to heat the house."
Another family, this one a husband and wife, was also helped by the Coal Fund. Both are disabled, and neither qualifies for food stamps.
"They barely pay all monthly expenses, so I'm sure they cut back on food purchasing. From time to time they need our help with food," Ricker said.
"They simply could not pay their electric bill, and that is how the house is heated."
If you would like to help families like this stay warm during the chilly winter months, here is how to do it:
Gifts in the form of either checks or cash may be delivered directly to the Community Ministries office at 107 N. Cutler St., between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays. Checks should be made payable to The Coal Fund.
Contributions also can be mailed to:
The Coal Fund
P.O. Box 545
Greeneville, TN 37745
Since the Coal Fund is considered one of the outreaches of Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries, Inc., contributions are deductible for federal income tax purposes.
Because Community Ministries staff administer the Coal Fund without charge, 100 percent of all contributions go to help keep local people warm during the cold months. Nothing is taken out for overhead expenses of any kind.
More than $4,000 in additional contributions have been received since the last update report.
New contributions as of Dec. 27 include:
* Ebenezer United Methodist Church, $500;
* In memory of Peggy Sexton by Anonymous, $100;
* In memory of our parents, Helen and Royal Spees, by The Family, $100;
* Mount Olive Red Hill Church, $500;
* The Ladies Aid of Mount Carmel United Methodist Church at Sunnyside, $200;
* Anonymous, $100;
* In honor of Gail, Shiela and Jennie Lynn by Mary Neas, $30;
* In memory of our parents by Anonymous, $500;
* Wendy and Joseph L. Hankins, $100;
* Alex S. Jones, $100;
* In honor of the Care Givers of Laughlin Memorial Hospital by Anonymous, $500;
* Anonymous, $200;
* Oak Grove Freewill Baptist Church Ladies Bible Class, $100;
* Love's Memorial United Methodist Church, $200; and
* Anonymous, $1,000.