Part of the missions of Goodwill and the Salvation Army, and other charitable organizations, often are misunderstood.
The stores operated by the two agencies sell donated merchandise. Revenue from those sales are used to fund their charitable programs. Those who run the charities are often frustrated that there are always some people who avoid shopping at the stores because they wrongly believe the merchandise itself, rather than the money it generates, is there just to help poor people.
Every year we likewise run into a few folks who hear about Turkey Fest at Peppermill and think the Evans restaurant is offering free Thanksgiving dinners to the poor.
Again, that's not quite how it works. Turkey Fest, the brainchild of Peppermill owners Ling-Feng Tang and Glenn Kersch, uses "celebrity" waiters to serve free Thanksgiving dinners. The diners then make donations, and all the money goes to Golden Harvest Food Bank and Columbia County Cares. The two food banks then use their purchasing power to provide meals to the needy.
The event goes on from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, and as one of the "celebrity" waiters - loosely defining both terms - I'll be hustling plates and refilling tea glasses from 1-2 p.m. Come by for a free meal, and don't forget to leave a donation to help those who couldn't have afforded it.
By the way: Though lunch at Peppermill on Monday is a free fund-raiser, I highly recommend the restaurant's menu during regular hours, too. (Their lamb chops are awesome.)
Thanks to Spooky, too
Turkey Fest, which last year raised more than $6,700, always comes just a few weeks after the It's Spooky to be Hungry food drive delivers the largest batch of food from a single drive to Golden Harvest each year.
Even though the organizers were afraid of compassion fatigue from Katrina, donations to Spooky instead, incredibly, were again up from last year. The total volume of food has nearly hit 50 tons, and monetary donations exceeded $50,000.
That kind of generosity, and the amazing participation of the 2,600 volunteers who help the community to demonstrate it each year, should make us all proud.
A great man retires
It was sad to hear the other day that Columbia County is losing one of its best employees.
Steve Jones, a 28-year worker with the county's recreation department, officially retired Oct. 28. Jones had a heart attack this spring, and retirement became his best option for recovery.
"Steve is a dedicated, devoted, loyal, hard worker, who never rests until the job is done," said his boss, Recreation Manager Charlie Beale, announcing the retirement. "He will be greatly missed by the entire department and Columbia County."
That's the truth; we missed Steve when he couldn't help with this year's July Fourth celebration, and he won't be able to help set up for the Christmas tree lighting Dec. 3. Those are just a couple of the special events; Steve was nearly indispensable with many other events and with the operation of Wildwood Park.
Whatever anyone thinks of Columbia County's politicians, we are blessed with some fantastic public employees. Steve is one of the best, and we really will miss him.
Here's hoping he has a long, restful retirement. If anyone has earned it, it's Steve Jones.
Wanted: Unique home
A final note: The folks from HGTV are looking for a "unique" home in our area for potential use on one of their shows. If you have any ideas, send me a note.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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