Back in December, about the time we had our first cold snap, a small-town preacher named Jim Campbell secured 40,000 wool blankets for poor people.
Huge trucks delivered the blankets from Pennsylvania to a Pasco County-owned warehouse in Hudson, where Campbell and a handful of volunteers unloaded them and passed them out to charities.
It didn't seem possible they could distribute so many blankets, especially lacking a forklift. But good news travels fast in these days of social media. Because the campaign was so successful, Campbell soon found himself on the phone with some U.S. Department of Defense employees offering even more of the recycled blankets.
"They said, 'How about 20,000 more each week?' '' said Campbell, who is also president of the Homeless Coalition of Pasco. "I said, 'No, no, no, no.' ''
The 65-year-old pastor at the Prayer House in Hudson had worn himself out with all of that manual labor, but the offer intrigued him. More to the point, he had witnessed the enthusiasm of those who had collected the blankets in the weeks before Christmas.
Campbell agreed to take 10,000 more blankets every two weeks.
His goal: 100,000.
"So far we've given out 50,800,'' Campbell told me this week.
The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the United Way and 163 ministries from seven counties have made their way to that warehouse on Denton Avenue. Some have brought along pallets of fresh produce and boxes of toiletries that Campbell has distributed to people in need at his ROPE Center, a shelter on Rhodes Road. The acronym stands for Resource, Outreach, Prayer, Empowerment.
It's my pleasure to update this piece of good news. If you want more information, call (727) 869-6426 or (727) 255-2353.
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Speaking of good news. …
Last week, I told you about Tammy Green, a 38-year-old mother of four who has fought an extremely rare form of cancer for nine years. Some friends of the New Port Richey hairdresser organized a car wash to help her with a dream of seeking alternative treatments.
It raised $6,800.
One man wrote a check for $4,000.
Tammy was speechless.
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One more update. I suppose this is good news to some folks:
You may recall our story in December about the influx of coyotes in Beacon Woods, a 2,600-home subdivision at U.S. 19 and State Road 52.
The animals were getting so bold that the civic association posted warnings and hired a trapper. Residents called daily to report coyote sightings. One woman wrote me to say that her cat had fallen prey to a coyote.
Try as he might, the trapper didn't have much luck — until Jan. 11. Since then, the calls have stopped.
Civic association officials aren't sure what to make of that. The coyotes are smart. Maybe word got around when the one got caught. If they start showing up again, we'll have more proof of their intelligence.
The trapper's contract ended Saturday.