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Southern Crescent groups share Wachovia grants

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Several non-profit groups in the Southern Crescent got a financial boost Monday from the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation.

The foundation, a conglomeration of Wells Fargo and Wachovia, which merged in December of 2008, is providing $1,000 grants to selected, non-profit organizations in metro Atlanta as a part of its first-ever "Days of Giving" Campaign.

The foundation plans to dole out $208,000 in grants this month to 180 groups across metro Atlanta. Eleven of those charities operate in Henry and Clayton counties.

The campaign is an effort to localize giving to charities by having local Wachovia-Wells Fargo branches nominate nonprofits in their communities worthy of receiving grant funding, according to Jim Lawrence, community bank president of South Atlanta for Wachovia-Wells Fargo.

"We've always been big in the community, [but] we're connecting with local communities in a whole new way," Lawrence said. "This is a special way to recognize and support groups across the Atlanta area that badly need it in this difficult economy."

He said the campaign had been a part of Wells Fargo for several years in its community banking states. The company's latest efforts, however, are much larger and more local.

"This is a tangible sign of the arrival of Wells Fargo, and power of combining our companies," Lawrence said.

A Riverdale-based organization - geared toward offering youths opportunities to continue their education and develop career and life skills - was nominated by two Wachovia-Wells Fargo branches between Clayton and Henry counties.

"It's great when an organization allows the local businesses to get hands on with a nonprofit," said Debbie Anglin, executive director of the non-profit organization, Hearts to Nourish Hope. The two nominations afforded the group two $1,000 in grants from the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation.

Half of the funds, Anglin said, will be used to support the organization's partnership with New Harvest Temple and its Youth Leadership League General Educational Development (GED) Program in Henry County. She said the remaining half will be used to support the Hearts to Nourish Hope GED and Career Development Program in Clayton County.

"The need is so much more than its ever been," Anglin said, "But the funding sources and help has deteriorated over the years. We are appreciative and grateful to [the foundation]."

McDonough-based nonprofit, A Friend's House, came to exist because of community concerns about "children in crisis" within the Henry County community. The organization is now able to provide room and board to up to 24 children in crisis.

"They are doing so much for the children - anything we can do to help is great," said Darlene Patton, manager at the McDonough branch Wachovia-Wells Fargo, which nominated A Friend's House. The group's needs are expected to grow as the holiday season arrives, according to Nan Jenkins, executive director for A Friend's House. "Our children have so many needs and expenses," Jenkins said, "and the holidays are coming soon, and this will truly help."

The $1,000 grant given to Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc., Food Pantry will go toward purchasing as much as 6,250 pounds of food from the Atlanta Community Food Bank, according to Lori Miller, executive director of the food pantry.

Miller said the amount is enough to serve roughly 45 families of four in Henry County. According to her, the food pantry, which has increased its clientele by more than 13 percent over this time last year, serves more than 1,000 families per month.

"We're so grateful to be a part of this wonderful charity," Miller said. The Stockbridge Wachovia-Wells Fargo branch, she added, has offered to host a food drive from Nov. 2, through the Thanksgiving holidays, to continue its support of the food pantry's mission.

Several other local organizations will be counted -- by month's end -- among those benefiting from the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation's "Days of Giving" campaign. In all, the foundation will award 208 grants to 180 nonprofits, now through Oct. 27.

Local recipients of the $1,000 grants include: Noah's Ark Children's Care Home in Locust Grove; Hearts to Nourish Hope in Riverdale; The Courtney Crooms Foundation, Inc., in Hampton; Trinity Training Institute, Inc., in Rex; the Clayton County Association Against Family Violence in Morrow; Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc., and All Grown Up, both in Stockbridge; A Friend's House, Haven House, and Pregnancy Resource Center of Henry County, all McDonough-based nonprofits.