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Loving Forsyth makes debut
Some 200 families served Saturday
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Forsyth County News

Leaders of a new Christian outreach program said the group's first event was a success.

Held Saturday in downtown Cumming, Loving Forsyth presented nearly 200 families living in poverty with food, clothing and other assistance such as haircuts and medical and vision screenings.

"It was awesome," said Jerry Dupree, one of the founders of the effort. "The Lord really provided and this community really provided."

Loving Forsyth was the idea of Dupree, community outreach coordinator for the Forsyth County YMCA, and Jim Sharp, founder of Abba House.

The effort seeks to bring together area churches, businesses and the community at large for projects too big to be tackled on a small scale basis.

Saturday's outreach program was the organization's first project.

The families helped through the event were identified by the Forsyth County school system as "really struggling and needing our help," Sharp said.

Dupree said all but "about 15 or 20" of the identified families showed up Saturday. A few others who were not on the list also attended.

Dupree said he and the nearly 100 volunteers who made the event possible "didn't want to turn anyone away."

"We ended up providing all those unexpected families with a meal on site and a box of food to take home," he said.

He said the effort ended up with more than enough food and clothing, which was collected from the community at all fire stations throughout the county.

"Those last couple of days, I know those guys at some of the fire stations were almost overwhelmed [with donations]," said Dupree, adding that Abba House helped to "fill in the blanks" of some clothing needs.

Abba House, a women's residential ministry in north Forsyth, has two thrift stores in the county.

The next phase of the Loving Forsyth project is to secure "mentors" from area churches to continue to work with the families on a long-term, one-on-one basis.

Sharp said he and Dupree are working with area church leaders to secure the mentors, who he hopes will help guide the families to a life out of poverty.

"We'd like to see them getting jobs and bettering their lives," he said.

Added Dupree: "That's the real goal of this -- to try to make these families feel they're a part of this community and envelope them into the community and churches."

Sharp and Dupree hope to work on other large-scale projects through Loving Forsyth in the future.

While the next project hasn't been nailed down, Dupree said it likely will be something similar to Saturday's event.

"Our next step is really just to figure out where we're going as a nonprofit and to start thinking about other projects," he said. "[Saturday's event] is the type of thing that would be typical."