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Shelter has utility credit thanks to donations

COVINGTON -- Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter has a credit toward utilities that should take them almost through the end of the year, thanks to community donations, according to Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston.

An account at Newton Federal that Johnston set up for the shelter has collected $11,270, which Johnston said has been withdrawn via cashier's check and transferred directly to the city for utility expenses, resulting in a credit that will last until mid-December, he said.

The $11,270 does not include the $6,000 donated by board members of the homeless shelter or the approximately $1,400 in community donations directly to the homeless shelter.

Johnston said the money donated to the Newton Federal account, which remains open, will be used only to pay for utilities. Johnston made an appeal to the community to donate after the shelter fell more than $5,300 behind on utility payments and was in danger of having utilities cut off.

The shelter is also behind on rent. Earlier this month, the Covington Housing Authority, which owns the property at 7133 Turner Lake Circle where the shelter is located, provided documentation showing the shelter had not made a rent payment since February.

Last week, shelter Director Clara Lett spoke at a Rockdale County Board of Commissioners meeting. Lett told commissioners that nearly half of the clients at Garden of Gethsemane homeless shelter in Covington are from Rockdale County.

Lett said the shelter is "one or two checks away from being homeless."

"The shelter is pleading with the community to help us with funding through the churches and other organizations," said Lett. "Every person that comes from Rockdale, Newton, Morgan, Walton or Jasper county is referred by an agency."

In addition to the Newton Federal account for utilities, general donations can be made via a PayPal account accessible on the shelter's website at www.rainbowcommuniyctr.org.

Editor Alice Queen contributed to this story.