A lot of us who live in Greene County have worked continuously at our jobs throughout the pandemic. Many or our fellow residents, however, have seen their places of employment shut down or they’ve been laid off.

If you are part of the first group, we’re sure you are thankful. And we’d like to offer a proposal that will help that second group, help for which we’re sure they’d be grateful.

Congress on Monday passed a COVID-19 relief package that will extend supplemental federal unemployment benefits of $300 per week to those who have not been able to keep their jobs. Though half of what the federal government approved for the jobless earlier this year, the new benefit will surely be a godsend. Still it probably won’t bridge the difference between needs and resources for a great many.

The measure also will send $600 cash payments to most individuals making less than $75,000 a year. That’s an awful lot of people. In Greene County, more than 77 percent of households take in less than $75,000 a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

For many, that cash payment will be a blessing, especially coming at the holidays. However, a lot of people are doing OK financially, so here is the proposal: If you can afford to, give some of that $600 away.

It won’t be hard to find a worthy cause. In the Saturday edition of The Greeneville Sun, Eugenia Estes reported on local and regional organizations that provide food to our county’s hungry and have seen the need soar during the pandemic and reach new heights recently.

“The need is out there, and in Greene County, it is more than people may realize,” Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries Executive Director Carmen Ricker said. “People are just out of food, that is what they have been telling us.” At the same time, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee Executive Director Rhonda Chafin told Estes, state and federal funding sources are drying up. “We may have to look to our local community for support to help us continue to meet the need,” Chafin said. “I think that it will be a challenging six months to a year.”

Community Ministries is also working to meet another immediate need: keeping people warm this winter. As it has for decades, the agency is accepting donations to the Coal Fund and using that money to help people in often dire situations heat their homes. Ricker said that, along with food, it is the biggest need in Greene County. Contributions can be mailed to The Coal Fund, P.O. Box 545, Greeneville, TN 37744. Donations can be made anonymously or in memory or honor of loved ones.

These are two ways to help people in our community. There are more. If you are one of the fortunate Greene County residents for whom a $600 payment from the federal government is nice but not a necessity, consider choosing a cause and using some of that money to aid those among us who are struggling. Your gift could make a big difference, especially now.

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