On Friday, October 23, Americans Helping Americans® interim executive director Bethelhem Tessema and staff had the opportunity to see first-hand the joy on the faces of hundreds of children and adults in Gainesville, Georgia who received new coats, hats and scarves, blankets, shoes and even laundry detergent at a one day “Give Away” event.

Tessema had traveled to Gainesville to meet with Mary Mauricio, executive director of our partner there L.A.M.P. Ministries, who would be overseeing the distribution of 240 coats, 150 winter hats, pairs of gloves and scarves, 150 pairs of shoes, 100 blankets and 100 containers of laundry detergent with a total estimated in-kind value of $24,550.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, and our partnership with L.A.M.P. Ministries, needy children will be warm at the bus stops this winter – where even in northern Georgia temperatures can drop to below freezing.

As Mary recently told us, “Homeless people are crying from gratitude because now they have a coat – a good one – and they are not embarrassed to wear it. For those sleeping outside, this is lifesaving.”

We are also very appreciative of The Gainesville Times which reported on the event noting that while it was L.A.M.P. Ministries which handled the logistics of the distribution, the items themselves came directly from Americans Helping Americans®

The article also vividly illustrated the great need in this Appalachian community as Mary commented that more than 300 people took advantage of the event, and that they originally thought it would take three hours to distribute the items but instead all of them were claimed within 30 minutes.

It was a bittersweet moment for both Mary and Tessema to first see the excitement and joy on the faces of those who received coats, shoes and other items, then followed by the disappointment on the faces of those who arrived too late.

But as we have done year after year with L.A.M.P. Ministries and our other partners in Appalachia – thanks to our supporters – we will continue to do all we can to be able to provide more coats and winter items to our partner organizations in the future.

(And the article also noted that less than a month after the coat distribution, L.A.M.P. Ministries would be holding its Thanksgiving dinner on November 21, with turkeys provided by Americans Helping Americans®.)

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