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Winter coat drive underway

winter-coats    Holy Spirit Ranch in the Grandview area conducts services for the homeless in Atlanta. They are asking for winter coats to distribute there and for a separate mission they lead on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where this winter has started early and is expected to be fierce. Coats for this effort may be left in a drop-off box in the lobby of the Pickens Progress on Main Street in Jasper.   

     Holy Spirit Ranch, a mission-based ministry, is looking for coats, blankets, hats and gloves to distribute to needy people this winter.
    Virginia Betts, who operates the ministry with her husband Pastor Joseph Betts, said they are worried about many of the groups they work with as the approaching winter may be particularly cold. The cold weather supplies will be distributed locally, to the homeless in Atlanta with everything left taken to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where Holy Spirit has been working to help the local people establish a church.


    The local group plans a return mission trip to South Dakota at the end of November to distribute the coats and perform other work.
    Holy Spirit Ranch formerly ran camps for underprivileged metro-youth and church retreats at their location in the Grandview area but several years ago switched gears to mission-based goals – working with people in Africa, the Native Americans on the reservation covering a large swath of South Dakota and with the homeless in Atlanta. They have been involved in all these places for several years.
    Ms. Betts said the homeless men and women they minister to in the Atlanta parks tell horrible stories of trying to stay warm and of the constant fear that with a turn of their heads, all their stuff will be stolen while living on the streets.
    She said they have a roster of the regular homeless people who attend their services and know the sizes they need to help the people.
    What is not used there will be distributed to the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation during a November mission trip. Holy Spirit Ranch conducted a dental clinic with a volunteer dentist last summer for the people there.
    Holy Spirit mission team members said they were amazed at how bleak life was on the reservation that encompasses hundreds of miles and numerous small communities. There is a misconception that the people there get a lot of federal assistance, but the Holy Spirit Ranch team members said there are houses that lack propane and other winter essential as the assistance does not meet the needs.
    Betts said they will take both new and used coats – “the heavier the better.”
    She said weather-resistant materials for coats, gloves, hats and blankets are definitely preferred, particularly among the homeless, and sleeping bags are really great for people who sleep outdoors in the city. Backpacks, to put stuff in, also come in handy.
    Betts wanted to thank Jasper Drug Store for already donating several backpacks for this effort.
    Betts said for this ministry everything goes directly to help people who really need it. “Even if we get just a little, it will go a long ways,” she said.
    Holy Spirit Ranch conducts services in the city parks every Sunday and will hand out jackets there as needed. Everything left when they begin packing  for the November mission trip on November 15 will be loaded or shipped to South Dakota.
    She said all sizes and styles (outdoor wear) can be used, “as long as it’s warm.”
    To donate coats, call Betts at 770-826-0203 or look for a drop off box in the lobby of the Pickens Progress on Main Street, next to the courthouse during standard business hours Monday through Friday.


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