BY LAUREN HENRY
The Christmas Coal Fund has already raised more than $3,500 to help heat the homes of local Greene Countians, and is already helping local families.
The Coal Fund appeal is sponsored yearly by The Greeneville Sun to help local families in need pay for heating their homes during the cold winter months.
Carmen Ricker, executive director of Greeneville/Greene County Community Ministries, Inc., which administers the drive, said the annual fundraiser fills a need in Greene County.
Earlier this week she gave two examples of how the fund is assisting local families.
"In a family of three, consisting of a grandmother, son and grandchild, the grandmother is oxygen-dependent and draws a small SSI [Social Security disability] check," Ricker said.
"The family was getting into a financial crisis.
"The son recently found employment but will not receive a check until December. After that, things will be much better for them.
"They came in for heating assistance and food. When the son went to work, their food stamps were cut almost in half.
"We can all feel good about helping this family," she said.
Another family consists of a 90-year-old woman raising her two grandchildren.
"She has income from Social Security and retirement benefits," Ricker said. "She does not come in here often.
"They are able to barely make financial obligations. However, occasionally, when anything out of the normal happens, such as heating assistance, they need our help. Heating was her request recently.
"Thanks to the Coal Fund, we were able to help with their need."
COAL FUND DONATIONS
A total of $3,574.90 has been contributed to help with heating bills so far.
The campaign began Thanksgivng Day and continues until the first of the new year.
Coal fund contributions so far include:
* Anonymous, $500;
* Atmos Energy, $194.90;
* Jearoldstown United Methodist Church, $100;
* Mt. Zion United Methodist Church Men, $250;
* Thelma Queen, $100;
* Friends of Jesus, $250;
* Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church, $805;
* Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church Women, $50;
* Greeneville Women's Club, $150;
* The Crusaders Class of Trinity United Methodist Church, $200;
* In memory of Wayne Cook by Ann L. Cook, $300;
* Greene County Antique Farm & Auto Show, $100;
* Mount Hebron United Methodist Church Men of Faith, $75;
* Newcomer Club, $300; and
* The Lamplighter's Class of Fairview Cumberland Presbyterian Church, $200.