We asked, and boy, did the community respond.
Hope Soap is a year-round charitable drive, collecting toiletries and personal care items that are sorted and repackaged as kits for residents of children's shelters, women's shelters, homeless shelters and those staying at such places as the Ronald McDonald House.
Under the umbrella of Big Changes Start Small, Inc., Hope Soap is the sister to the better-known It's Spooky To Be Hungry annual food drive, which has become the largest single drive benefiting Golden Harvest Food Bank.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, the head of BCSS, Evelyn Browne, called to talk about boosting Hope Soap collections and sending a truckload to the affected area. We put our heads together on logistics, found a truck and money to help pay for it, picked a distribution site to receive the goods, and then put out the call for donations.
And boy, did the community donate. We weighed everything Saturday at Golden Harvest, where Hope Soap uses warehouse space. Volunteers sorted and repacked 10,000 pounds of donated toiletries, personal care items and other supplies for Katrina victims.
More than half a ton of that came from The News-Times office, one of the dropoff sites. The donors were incredibly generous. I wish I could show them the enthusiasm of the volunteers in that warehouse Saturday, packing those boxes for Mississippi.
As Browne told those volunteers, the great thing about Hope Soap and Spooky is that no one person has to do any big thing; instead, lots of people do little things, and together their contribution is great.
Many hands make light work, as my grandmother used to say. Or big changes start small.
Children pony up
Speaking of donations, I was amazed to see our story Sunday by Debbie Steele pointing out that Columbia County students have raised nearly $50,000 to help in the relief effort.
You've really got to hand it to Felicia Dumas, principal of Lakeside Middle School. She'll soon be spending a day inside her school's display case as a funny reward to her students for raising more than $3,000 - and the money is still coming in.
Whether it's getting on the roof of the school or walking to the campus from Appling, you can always count on Dumas to come up with something exciting.
There are probably few elections next year in Georgia less compelling than that for insurance commissioner.
The only people who pay attention to the race are insurance companies, who shove enormous amounts of money toward whomever they believe will win. Many people had hoped current commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican, would seek the nomination for lieutenant governor and thus accomplish two things: He'd get beaten and no longer be in office, and Evans Republican Ben Harbin could run for the insurance post.
Instead, Oxendine went for the almost-sure thing and will run for re-election. He's drawn a spirited challenger: Guy Drexinger.
Drexinger came out with a funny attack the other day, poking notoriously bad driver Oxendine for running a full-page ad in Atlanta calling on high school students to go to Six Flags for a driving seminar. On a Friday. During school.
"Taking driving lessons from John Oxendine would be like taking safety lessons from Evel Knievel," Drexinger quipped.
What the challenger's statement didn't say is what party he's in. It isn't listed on his Web site, either. It took an Internet search to find it, and the party affiliation popped up in a story about the closet Democrat getting into a screaming match with flaggers.
Ah, a match made in heaven.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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