What makes Anderson, SC so special? Is it Lake Hartwell? The beautiful view of the mountains? The thriving economy? The low cost of living? While all of these things are true, the thing that stands out in my mind is the sense of community. We take care of our own.
Most people know about Radio, a movie was even made about the special bond between a mentally challenged young man and the coach of T.L. Hanna. How the high school embraced Radio and how he is still at Hanna an honorary 11th grader every year.
Well last week something special happened with one of our homeless veterans. This is the story of Jessie Alexander.
If you drive up or down Main Street at the intersection of Concord and Whitehall Road you have seen Jesse. People honk at him and he waves and gives them a toothless grim. This winter has been harsh and last week the temperatures dipped into the single digits. Where is Jessie? He is on the sidewalk in front of Walgreens or Quick Trip bundled up in his coat, hat and blankets sitting in his chair with his blue cart.
Alexander (Mr. Jessie) is 69, has been living on the streets off and on for 10 years. He has a bike and a blue cart hitched to the bike which contains two or three duffel bags, some blankets, a trash can, five Bibles, two American flags and a small shoe-shine caddy. Shoe shining is what he says he’s done most of his life to supplement a disability check.
He uses a rope to tie a walking cane, a baseball bat, a stick and an umbrella to the bike’s handlebars. A cord holds a Bible and a folder containing some of his mail and important papers. A bag with a few snacks, some cookies, crackers and bottles of water hangs from one of the handlebars.
There are people who stop by when they see him sitting in his chair and offer him food, snacks or a ride to church. Some just stop to visit with him for a few minutes.
On January 23rd the citizens of Anderson took action to help Mr. Jessie. Honea Path resident, Bud Hanley met Mr. Jessie last week and Hanley quickly went to work to help Mr. Jessie out. He went to the Quality Inn (a hotel near Mr. Jessie’s spot) and asked them for help. The Quality Inn agreed to give Mr. Jessie a discounted rate so he could survive the cold in a warm room. Then he went to the Waffle House next door to the Quality Inn, spoke to the manager and he agreed to set up a “tab” for Mr. Jessie.
Next, the graciousness and generosity of the people of Anderson unfolded. Hanley went to her Facebook page and posted that Mr. Jessie needed help and told all his friends how they could help. Facebook in Anderson SC exploded with the news and donations started pouring in.
At last check, Mr. Jessie had over 90 nights paid for and his “tab” at the Waffle House is over $250.00 and still growing. As of Sunday night, the hotel had received $3,237 toward Alexander’s stay, a hotel worker reported. And that number was more than $1,000 higher than it was Saturday morning, she added.
So you see, Anderson SC is a special place to live. We are Southerners who take care of their own even if they are mentally challenged or a homeless veteran.
Those wishing to help Alexander with food, clothing or shelter should call the front desk of the Quality Inn at 864-226-6051
Photo credit – Anderson Independent Mail