Monday, March 2, 2015

Reading Room distributes warm blankets

The Feb. 17 death of a homeless man in Chattanooga, TN, has sparked a city-wide wave of generosity. Douglas King, 64, died while sleeping under a railroad trestle on an icy night. He may be gone, but he is not forgotten. Musicians at Chattamusic are celebrating his life by composing music in his honor and donating proceeds to the homeless. Radio hosts have dedicated parts of their airtime to programs encouraging the homeless to use shelters and overcome alcoholism.

Nancy E. Harrison, a Christian Science practitioner, hung a sign in the window of the Christian Science Reading Room on Market Street (shown above) offering warm blankets to anyone needing them. "It's not our normal outreach," she said. "Our focus is on healing and prayer, but given the news of this man dying needlessly that way -- we wanted to help."

King grew up in a well-to-do family and graduated from Ohio State, said Betsy Seepe, who once dated him and keeps in touch with his family. He wasn't always an alcoholic. An accountant, he'd been married twice and has a daughter. When found, he had money in his pocket and $175 in the bank.

Local musician Joseph Blagg, 62, is writing a song about King's life. "These people need help," he said, "and we've got to find a way to do better than we're doing."

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