The true spirit of Thanksgiving was celebrated by several are needy families this past holiday, thanks to the goodness of Pine Crest Guest Home in Hazlehurst.
Ron Guins, owner of Pine Crest and The Therapy Center on Caldwell Drive in Hazlehurst, and members of his staff have delivered traditional Thanksgiving dinners at no charge for the past several years to those who otherwise may have had to do without. Guins said he realized the need several years ago and wanted to help as many people as he could.
“We started this a while back helping out families with small children who were extremely needy–people that I met here at the nursing home and came to know very well. At first it was only a few. Over the years our outreach has grown to over two dozen families,” Guins explained last Wednesday at Pine Crest. This year’s total is 29, most of whom are residents of Hazlehurst.
One local resident who has enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner provided to him by Guins is Ernest Whigham, age 73. Mr. Whigham was a truck driver for 51 years and self-employed as such for 25. Years ago he suffered strokes on three different occasions. While he was able to continue working after the first two, the third one rendered him physically unable five years ago.
A long-time friend of Guins, he began physical therapy at the Therapy Center and has come a long way toward regaining much of his physical movement. Guins said that Ernest always came to the center around lunch time, and began enjoying the meals that Pine Crest prepared for residents so much that he is now among the facilities’ regular lunchtime crowd.
Guins has been providing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes, dressing and rolls for Whigham for the past five years–since Whigham’s last stroke–and other families for even longer. The meal is enough to feed 6-8 people, Guins said.
“I appreciate the care that Mr. Guins and his staff have given me over the years, and the meals are an extra touch. I have truly been blessed by these good folks,” Mr. Whigham said.
Guins said that initially the staff of Pine Crest prepared the meals that they delivered on the day before Thanksgiving each year. In recent years, including 2008, Guins has purchased the prepared dinners from Piggly Wiggly of Hazlehurst. “They have done a wonderful job of helping out each year,” Guins said.
Guins acknowledged that he and Pine Crest are not the only folks who have reached out to help the needy over the years. Traditionally, he and the many others who are just as benevolent have asked for no type of notoriety. This is the first time Pine Crest has received any publicity about the Thanksgiving outreach because “a gift is a gift best when it is from the heart,” Guins said. “We and others like us aren’t doing this for thanks, we are simply trying to help those who we’ve come to know as truly needy to have a happy Thanksgiving. That’s all that counts.”