Most of what I write is political in nature, but it’s Christmas, and even though I’m not a born-again Christian - we celebrate Christmas for the spirit of goodwill it promotes, and a message of peace and goodwill to your neighbor(s) is a message that crosses partisan lines and whether you’re personally religious or not, it’s the time of the year when people are more concerned with the happiness of others rather than themselves; for me, that’s the spirit of Christmas that makes it a worthwhile tradition - and those who are insulted by its celebration might want to consider the goodwill it brings forth as well as the generosity from those who give freely to those who are less fortunate.
I attempt to keep a low-profile in my community, but what I’ve witnessed this year is a story that must be told. It’s refreshing to report on something good, a charity and a remarkable individual who overcame personal loss and suffering to emerge as a champion of those in similar circumstances - and it doesn’t stop there, and through her efforts and the compassion of Forsyth Country Juvenile Judge Jackson - Angel’s Closet exists, and the lives they touch and help is a story in itself.
I know a local family that is in dire financial straits; they are caring for their niece and granddaughter on nothing but Social Security income, and their names will not be revealed to protect the identity of the minor child - but their story compels me to bring Angel’s Closet “out of the closet” so maybe someone with the spirit of Christmas will recognize the wonderful work they accomplish, unselfishly, and always with the health and welfare of the community as their primary goal(s), especially as the children are concerned - and shower them with the recognition and hopefully, a benefactor will come forward to offer additional help to this local charity that is a model of compassion and truly represents the American spirit. I’m speaking of Kim Slep, the founder of Angel’s Closet, and their “Guardian Angel”, Judge Jackson.
The uncle was at a local food back when he found a postcard on his windshield - and it was a phone number and a brief description of Angel’s Closet. His niece had been through some extremely hard times and moved into Forsyth County from another state; her mother was forced out of their home because of family financial problems, illness within the family itself - and her mother had been robbed and injured, surviving two (2) robberies at a convenience store where she worked. (She’s still recuperating and needs further surgery and rehabilitation, and she is destitute and has to rely on her family just to keep a roof over her head. She resides in another state.) The husband refuses to work and she’s attempting to get a divorce - and no child support comes from a man that refuses to care for his own family. The child in question has been transferred from school to school, and some in her family erroneously though the child suffered from mild retardation because of her constant below-average performance in previous schools.
The family in Georgia that were blessed with caring for this child were totally unprepared for another addition to their already strained financial condition, but welcomed her with open-arms and began to comprehend that preteen girls require a lot of support, and the clothes she came with were old, tattered, and would have made her stand-out in school like a sore thumb. The Uncle decided to swallow his pride and called Angel’s Closet and were then invited to their office - which is in the Forsyth County Juvenile Justice Center in a satellite office that Judge Jackson personally made available for Angel’s Closet
Much to his surprise, the niece was given clothes - not throw-offs, but fashionable clothes that allowed her to blend-in at school, some donated, and some purchased that day by Kim Slep herself; she took the niece shopping and bought her more clothes and necessities that required the presence of a woman to pick out, as the Uncle was sorely unprepared for the needs of a preteen girl. Something remarkable happened that day, and a bond was forged between Kim and his niece, and Kim continued to follow her progress - and was also there when the weather turned cold and she needed warmer clothes. The true “Angels” of Angel’s Closet are Kim Slep and Judge Jackson. They do have local sponsors, all of which are mentioned at the conclusion of this article and should also be recognized for their support and willingness to give unto the community to help the most disadvantaged residents of Forsyth County.
Kim found out the child in question didn’t have a Christmas tree this year and the family caring for their niece was unable to buy her even a single Christmas gift - and yesterday I found out they now have a Christmas Tree, there are an abundance of gifts for the child, and Kim Slep even brought along a Christmas Ham when she realized the family couldn’t afford to buy the ingredients for a traditional Christmas dinner. Because of Angel’s Closet, a family in Forsyth County now are able to celebrate Christmas and witness the joy of a child that has been sorely neglected for far too long; the neglect may not have been intentional - but a miraculous change has occurred with this child, and grades that were sub-standard at best are now almost all “A’s and B’s”, proof that honest care and support can make the difference between success and failure!
I’ve been reading about how bad our schools are on a nationwide basis, but in Forsyth County Georgia - exactly the opposite is true, and while I’d like to mention the school this young lady attends, I am prohibited from doing so to protect her identity; the Uncle told me that when the school heard they were experiencing financial difficulties, the school actually sent out their Social Worker to see if they could be of assistance. Based on what I’ve learned, the schools in the county are very proactive and reach-out to those who are having problems, helping to attain a sense of excellence in education the entire nation should study; other school systems would be well-advised to study how Forsyth County has leaned to cross the socioeconomic boundaries that also impact a child’s ability to learn, and even though they weren’t able to offer the family a solution, they tried, and I haven’t heard of any school system being that proactive in a child’s welfare and education.
As a final note, even though the Uncle has no particular religious preference or beliefs, he has stated he will be taking his niece to church in the near future, not necessarily for the concept of religion itself, but to expose her even more to the atmosphere of true Christianity that is the basis and guiding force that makes Forsyth County appear to be an oasis in a desert of strife and discontent. He believes that it will be beneficial to his niece to have more contact with the people who make Forsyth County such a pleasant place to live.
From a personal perspective, I’m a liberal/progressive writer and political commenter that lives among a sea of Republicans and Christians - not the right-wing radicals that have corrupted true Christian beliefs to promote their own brand of Christianity, much like radical Islam has done to those who practice peaceful Islamic beliefs- but Christianity as it should be, with am emphasis on helping their fellow man and living by what they believe: compassion, goodwill toward their neighbors, adherence to the “Golden Rule”, and they don’t wear their religion on their sleeves, but quietly promote the true spirit of Christianity through their actions and generosity - and their genuine concern for those who are less fortunate.
This is the America that I remember as a child, where people were allowed to practice their own belief system(s) and not be condemned by their neighbors, but instead are welcomed as members of the community - and if they can help, they do - and ask for nothing in return. I have included these thoughts because I keep hearing about a “war against Christianity”, and my personal observations demonstrate that it’s not really true. Christians have and always will an intricate part of the backbone of our society, and to my liberal and progressive friends, I’m living evidence that the American spirit is still alive and well in some communities, and this Christmas, I give my thanks for the privilege of living in a community where people still demonstrate true American values - and this community should be lauded for holding true to their beliefs and refusing to fall prey to those that are attempting to hijack Christianity.
I’m hoping that CNN will recognize Kim Slep, Judge Jackson, and Angel’s Closet as they do many heroes that contribute to the betterment of our society, and to those that are attempting to hijack Christianity to serve their own political agenda, it appears to me that true Christians are beginning to throw-off those radical beliefs and are holding true to their core values - and if this movement would spread throughout our country, America would be a better place for all of us! My message is that there’s still hope, that all Christians are not radicals that seek to turn America into a theocracy - but instead are striving to maintain the true spirit of Christianity - and in Forsyth County, Georgia - the true spirit of Christianity is alive and well.
Footnote: The below listed organizations are local groups that support Angel’s Closet, and although they have been of great assistance and help, Angel’ Closet could still use more donations and help - and to those who live in Forsyth County, if you have a child or a woman that needs clothes and you’re in need of help, I’d suggest contacting Kim Slep at Angel’s Closet and you will instantly be struck by the compassion and concern that everyone who has had contact with this charity has experienced:
Juvinile Justice Center
Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit
Domestic Violence Task Force
My Secret Closet
Forsyth Cumming Optimist Club
Hands on Forsyth
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Tams, Kroger, Wal-Mart, Target, Publix
If you would like to inquire into this charity or make a donation, this is where to address your correspondence, and even though it’s at the Juvenile Justice Center - everything you send goes directly to Angel’s Closet under the watchful eye of Judge Jackson: