DUBLIN, Georgia (41 NBC/WMGT) - It's been 45 years in the works. Gail Yates' mother started something to help those around her, get by, and get through the tough times in life. She lent everyone she knew, a helping hand.
Gail Yates, now organizes and continues her mother's legacy in the community. She is behind 'Helping Hands'; a group of volunteers who do whatever it takes to put a smile on people's face and help them when life gets hard.
If you've ever been through Dublin, you've likely heard or seen of Helping Hands. The biggest effort, the one that takes the entire year to accomplish, is gathering bikes for kids so they have a present to open during the Christmas and holiday seasons.
Yates will put a note in the local newspaper asking for help, and the help, pours in.
"This is a wonderful county," Yates says with a little mist in her eyes. "This is a wonderful place to live. People want to help."
Yates gathers more than just bikes though for those in need. She gets college students to collect books for stocking-stuffers. Wal-Mart donates bikes and toys. Churches bring in clothes and shoes. The post office collects canned food. The fire departments have toys they collect and distribute. The local candy store will donate candy for the kids. The meat market makes sure every family has a Christmas ham to cook. And it all couldn't come at a better time.
"We are close to 750 to 760 families," Yates estimates.
Even in the middle of summer, there's an empty warehouse, that quite frankly, is really never empty. Right now, there are more than 130 bikes sitting and waiting to be fixed, and given to local kids who otherwise would never have the opportunity to get a bike for the holidays.
Yates narrowed down what she does, to one simple truth;
"We just need to work toward more of thinking of others, and less of ourselves. And people will be a lot happier."
Gail Yates does not work alone in her mission. Year round, she works with doctors who give Laurens County residents medical help when they can't afford it. Helping Hands will help cover utilities, groceries, gas, and miscellaneous expenses to help make ends meet for residents in the city of Dublin and throughout Laurens County.