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One woman’s drive to keep low-income seniors in Forsyth County warm this winter
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Tiffany Johnson, right, and Cumming Police Department officer Tracy Holbrook deliver blankets and cookies to seniors at the Cumming Housing Authority on Tuesday, Dec. 3, as part of Johnson’s “Love Your Neighbor Winter Blanket Drive.” - photo by Brian Paglia

The idea came to Tiffany Johnson while she was shopping for blankets.

Johnson has been her 61-year-old mother’s full-time caregiver since 2000 when her mother had surgery for a brain tumor and soon after started having regular seizures. Johnson’s mother was later diagnosed with epilepsy.

Johnson took her mother in after the surgery, and one of Johnson’s biggest challenges has been keeping her mother warm, particularly during colder months.

So as Johnson looked for something comfy to keep her mother warm, Johnson suddenly decided she needed to help other senior citizens too, specifically low-income seniors.

“The Lord was very clear,” Johnson said.

That inspiration manifested last week when Johnson kicked off her “Love Your Neighbor Winter Blanket Drive” on Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Starbucks at The Collection of Forsyth.

Johnson collected her first batch of blankets from a variety of special guests, including Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow, Cumming Police Chief David Marsh, representatives of Dawson County and Forsyth County senior centers and members of the Lanier Forsyth Rotary Club, to which Johnson belongs.

That’s where it all started for Johnson. Three weeks ago, Johnson shared her idea to collect and distribute blankets to local seniors in need at one of the rotary club’s regular meeting. Members instantly offered to help, Johnson said.

Three members offered their place of business as a drop-off location: Lauren McDonald of McDonald and Sons Funeral Home, Tom Burgess of Christian Brothers Automotive Group and Michael Barlow of Troncalli Subaru. Pauli Wade of Wade Works Creative offered to design marketing material and manage social media accounts.

Johnson then connected with all three Starbucks locations in Forsyth County, who agreed to be drop-off locations, too.

Johnson saw a preview of her efforts last Tuesday, Dec. 3, when she was joined by Wade and her three kids and Cumming Police Department officer Tracy Holbrook to distribute 10 blankets that Wade had purchased to residents at the Cumming Housing Authority, along with boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

“Some of the seniors live alone, so just to have the children come bring a blanket and a cookie, it’s really comforting,” Johnson said. “Words can’t describe. It was love.”

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Cumming Police Department officer Tracy Holbrook, right, shows siblings Mara, center, and Mac Wade which unit at the Cumming Housing Authority to deliver free blankets and cookies to on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, as part of the “Love Your Neighbor Winter Blanket Drive.” - photo by Brian Paglia
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Siblings Mara, left, and Mac Wade give free blankets and cookies to a resident at the Cumming Housing Authority on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, as part of the “Love Your Neighbor Winter Blanket Drive.” - photo by Brian Paglia

Two days later, Johnson received 61 more blankets at the drive’s kick-off event at Starbucks. That number is up to 88 as of Tuesday, Dec. 10, Johnson said.

But Johnson hopes to have plenty more blankets to give to local seniors by the beginning of February. The drive ends Feb. 5, Johnson said, and she’s asking for the community’s help to identify low-income seniors who might benefit from a warm blanket by contacting her at loveyourneighborga@gmail.com or 770-299-9480.

“This is the Lord’s will,” Johnson said. “He has placed this on my heart.”

How to help

Where to drop off

Here’s a list of locations around the area to drop off blankets for the “Love Your Neighbor” winter blanket drive. Locations are accepting blankets until Feb. 5.

McDonald & Son Funeral Home

● 150 Sawnee Drive, Cumming, Georgia 30040

Troncalli Subaru

● 820 Atlanta Highway, Cumming, Georgia 30040

Christian Brothers Automotive

● 5960 Bethelview Road, Cumming, Georgia 30040

Starbucks

● 2320 Atlanta Highway, Cumming, Georgia 30040

● 435 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming, Georgia 30041

● 906 Buford Highway, Cumming, Georgia, 30041

How to get in touch

If you know of a local senior citizen in need of a warm blanket this winter season, contact Love Your Neighbor at loveyourneighborga@gmail.com or 770-299-9480