10/12/2006

REVIEW: THE TIMES-HERALD

More than 1,000 youngsters in Coweta County will have the chance to develop an early love for reading because of the thoughtfulness of Alan Jackson, his record label and his mother. Jackson's "Precious Memories" recording of hymns and gospel songs was certified platinum in late August. The platinum honor means more than a million copies of "Precious Memories" have been sold. Jackson's mother, Newnan resident Ruth Jackson, and his mother-in-law, Nell Jackson, also of Newnan, had encouraged him to make a gospel album. In fact, Ruth Jackson had almost forgotten about her suggestion several years earlier, when her son told her about the project. "He surprised me with it," she said. At ceremonies in Nashville on Aug. 29, Jackson was recognized for the album's success, and checks for $100,000 each were presented to Ruth Jackson and Nell Jackson for them to present to the charities of their choice. On Wednesday afternoon, Ruth Jackson met with supporters of programs for Coweta County's young children to commemorate her gift of $5,500 to the Ferst Foundation for Child Literacy. Meeting with her at the city park at Jackson Street and Temple Avenue were Janie Cantrell, Anne Josey and Nancy Royal. "We're delighted," said Josey, executive director of Certified Literate Is Coweta's Key, better known as CLICK, the local literacy advocacy group. Royal is elementary curriculum director for the Coweta County School System, and Cantrell is director of the school system's Parent Resource Center on Nimmons Street. "We're very happy," Royal said of the gift. Josey said there are 1,300 local children signed up for the Ferst program, which provides a book for each child every month. The books are provided from birth through age 5 when the last book is "Kindergarten, Here I Come." Josey said there was a great need for funds to continue the program. Nell Jackson and her late husband, Dan, were among the 58 charter members when Unity Baptist Church was organized in 1959. She gave her check to Unity, which is currently in the midst of a major building program. Ruth Jackson said she did not have one single place she wanted to give. "I let the children decide," she said. All of her children, except daughter Diane Dawson, a University of Georgia graduate, attended the University of West Georgia. Ruth Jackson said a large portion of the money went to West Georgia. She gave the money to "quite a few different places," she said. The visit in the park brought back memories for Ruth Jackson. She attended Newnan High School when it stood on the property and met her late husband, Eugene, in a civics class there. The women admired the fountain in the park, and Mrs. Jackson said a longtime friend, Katherine Carter, gave the money for the fountain. Mrs. Jackson also said she had seen her son on "Extreme Makeover" earlier this week. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" focused on building a home for the Hawkins family of Hendersonville, Tenn. The family were victims of a massive F-3 tornado that struck middle Tennessee this past April. Alan Jackson performed a private benefit concert at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry for volunteers and donors with proceeds going to a new home for firefighter Jerrod Hawkins, his wife, Amy, and their two sons, Jair and Cole. The tornado destroyed the family's previous home. Amy Hawkins was crippled by debris when the storm struck and is now confined to a wheelchair. "She can't walk at all," Ruth Jackson said. "Everything in the house was built for her," Mrs. Jackson noted. She said Mrs. Hawkins can swim, and the new home includes a pool. During the program, Jackson sang two of his hits, "Remember When" and "Livin' on Love." "It is such a blessing he's so giving and generous," Josey commented. Unless otherwise stated, all material on this page and all pages on this site ©2000 - 2006 The Times-Herald, Newnan, Georgia. Any reproduction of any part of this web site without written permission is strictly prohibited. Published 10/11/06 in The Times-Herald By W. WINSTON SKINNER

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