Helping Hands III

We are blessed in Lawrence County because nineteen years ago, Patricia Olive Hill and her daughter, Sandi Mashburn, started the Santa for Seniors campaign out of their concern for local senior citizens.

That Christmas season they delivered packages containing food, personal care and household items to 17 local seniors.

1916804_963185947053495_3711291890589578422_nThis year, 590 senior citizens received those basic goods plus items based on their specific needs. Sandi, who has carried on the Santa for Seniors program in memory of her mother, works hard to fill special requests for items like walkers, shower chairs, diabetic foods, clothing, pet food, large print books and heaters.

12243519_963185977053492_7740216450378940553_nCollections begin at Thanksgiving. Many local businesses, churches, individuals and clubs have embraced the drive and give hundreds of items, and cash for shopping,  to fill those needs.

Gift bags are assembled at the WLX studio building in Lawrenceburg. A team of volunteers fill brown paper bags for the recipients and personally deliver many of them.

12341095_10153289447326636_8775881171271557969_nTo learn more about the Spirit of Santa, visit its Facebook page.

photos by Amber Staggs and Ben Luna


Helping Hands II

We are blessed in Lawrence County by the Spirit of Santa, a 26-year-old program that helps all Lawrence County children have a wonderful Christmas.

The Lawrenceburg Parks & Recreation Department coordinates the effort that will this year provide gifts of clothing and toys to more than 800 children across the county.  The number of recipients changes each year, and has risen to over 1,000.

Children greet Santa at his arrival (by train) in Lawrenceburg.

Two days of free breakfast events kick off Spirit of Santa fundraising each year. Residents drop off donations of toys, clothing, and cash – this year more than $17,000 in monetary donations alone.

The Mars Hill Baptist Choir was just one group who entertained at the Spirit of Santa breakfast.

Recipient names are submitted by the Department of Human Services, schools and churches. Children and families are asked for clothing sizes and wish lists, and then the wonderful work of shopping begins. Each child receives clothing and toys, which are packaged for families to pick up at the Parks & Recreation office the week of Christmas.

For more information about the Spirit of Santa, call 762-4231.

Top photo: Bicycles donated to the Spirit of Santa by Lawrenceburg Utilities System and its employees.

Photos by Howard ‘HoJo’ Johnston, the Lawrence County Advocate

Helping hands

We are blessed in Lawrence County with organizations that help people in need and generous residents who support them.

God’s Storehouse has evolved from a small food pantry off the Lawrenceburg Square to an agency that provides food and clothing to hundreds every month and limited assistance with utility bills.

Donated food items wait to be packaged at God’s Storehouse food bank.

Between 500 and 600 boxes filled with a variety of food items are given out each month, feeding an estimated 1,200 residents. People in need can also choose items from the clothing bank, which serves about 500 a month.

Donations come from churches, civic groups, businesses and individuals, says Board Chairman Rickey Wade. Some provide regular support and others just one-time gifts, but it all works together to help Lawrence County residents.

There are many ways to assist. God’s Storehouse at 425 Frank Street accepts non-perishable food items, personal hygiene and household products like soap, toothpaste and toilet paper. New and gently used adult and children’s clothes are also accepted there for the clothing bank.

Board Chairman Rev. Rickey Wade at the God’s Storehouse clothing bank.

Another way to help is by giving clothes, household items, furniture and small appliances to the Community Thrift Store, where merchandise is sold and proceeds used to support the work of God’s Storehouse. So yet another way to advance the work of the agency is to shop for bargains at the Columbia Avenue Thrift Store.

Cash donations are accepted and appreciated. Some food must be purchased to help fill up food boxes; most is bought at a discount from Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Some clothing, like underwear and socks, are also purchased for the clothing bank. Customers of Lawrenceburg Utilities System can choose to have their bills rounded up to the next dollar and the difference given to God’s Storehouse.

No matter how donations arrive, they all help Lawrence Countians. Manager Pam Clayton is one of just a few paid employees – most work is performed by volunteers. The unpaid board of directors includes Chairman Rickey Wade, Vice Chairman Mike Hunt, Secretary Allyssa Fox, Treasurer Carol Cramer, members Bobby Alford, Delano Benefield, Dr. Norman Henderson, and Alice Quillen. Lawrenceburg Mayor Keith Durham and Lawrence County Executive T.R. Williams are ex-officio members of the board.

Volunteer Regina Kemper takes information from a potential God’s Storehouse recipient. Shown at top are volunteers Carol Belew and Marla Roberts.

For more information about God’s Storehouse, visit or call 766-1265. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays. The Community Thrift Store is located at 115 North Columbia Avenue in Lawrenceburg. Hours to shop or donate items are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

photos by Nancy Brewer


Living history in Appleton

photo by Tom Hill

We are blessed in Lawrence County with opportunities to step into the past at Appleton’s Big Red Store.

One such opportunity occurs this Saturday, December 5, when the owners who refurbished the long-shuttered country store host their annual Christmas event. Doors open, with free admission, at 8 a.m.

brs 2

Bob and Linda Boyd live in a historic home next to the Big Red Store and grew tired of watching the deterioration of the landmark that was closed in the mid-1950s. They along with Alvin and Jackie Fick bought it in 2006 and have restored it as a living museum and a tribute to the community it served.

photo from Lawrence County History Trivia

The Big Red Store was hailed as “the largest country store in the South” when it opened in 1902. Appleton is located in southeast Lawrence County, just north of the Alabama state line. Its cotton gins served farmers in Giles and Lawrence counties and North Alabama, and the three-story store was a testimony to the community’s prosperity.

photo by Tom Hill
photo by Tom Hill
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Customers could buy everything they needed at the Big Red Store. It offered groceries, clothing, hardware, chickens, and wooden caskets.  A tailor, milliner and undertaker plied their trades there; a soda fountain, post office, and drug store were housed under its roof. The local Masonic Lodge even held meetings on its third floor.

Filling the wooden shelves and cabinets today are examples of the items that were sold there, including one child-sized wooden casket. Visitors can also look at old store receipts and scrapbooks full of photos and other memorabilia from the store.

photo from Darrell and Dana Wiley Ball

Visitors this Saturday can attend an 11 a.m. memorial for Union and Confederate soldiers who died at the nearby Battle of Sugar Creek.  The skirmish occurred December 26, 1864, and was the last Civil War battle that took place in Tennessee. Re-enactors will be on hand to recreate the battle after 1 p.m.

Vendors will offer handmade goods for sale at the December 5 event, and steaming bowls of chicken stew and chili will be available. Santa is even scheduled to make an appearance from noon to 1 p.m.

photo by Tom Hill


photo by Tom Hill
photo by Tom Hill

Another highlight is music. Talented pickers fill the store and lawn with traditional, toe-tapping sounds; buck dancers and cloggers circle ‘round to join in the fun.  The Boyds and Ficks open the store one Saturday at the start of the Christmas season, and on the Fourth of July. Appleton had a traditional Independence Day celebration for many years that included a community baseball game.

photo by Tom Hill
photo by Tom Hill

The Big Red Store is part of the Appalachian Quilt Block Trail and has been featured on Tennessee Crossroads – watch it at https://www.youtubecom/watch?v=t8csA8uvfUk.
To reach the Big Red Store, turn onto Highway 98 (Rabbit Trail Road) from US. 43 in Leoma. Travel about 12 miles south, turn left on Appleton Road, and travel about 4.5 miles.