Valdosta man leaves major money to charities - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta man leaves major money to charities

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By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Many charitable organizations are struggling to meet the needs of the people they serve these days.  Things are now looking up for two South Georgia charities.

LAMP and the Second Harvest Food Bank of South Georgia both received donations of nearly $115,000.  The money was left to them by a Valdosta man who passed away last June.

James Fleming, a paralegal from Pennsylvania, bought a home in Valdosta in 2001.  While Fleming led a quiet life, keeping mostly to himself, he certainly had a big heart.  On Friday morning, his donations were presented to both organizations.

"When you are fortunate enough as an organization to receive someone's respect in a gift like this, then you're able to make some real long-term goals and changes happen in your organization," says Frank Richards, President and CEO of the food bank.

Second Harvest, which has seen a significant drop in donations since the recession, says Fleming's gift will feed thousands of hungry families, and provide funding to several of their community programs.

Lowndes Associated Ministries to People, or 'LAMP',says the donation will have a major impact on the community. "It makes a tremendous difference, especially with LAMP's ability to match this money five for one with federal grant money," says Board of Trustees member Trey Taylor.  "A hundred-and-something-thousand dollar gift will really spend like over half-a-million dollars in the local community."

Both charities agree the donations couldn't have come at a better time.  Jack Hartley, the executor of Fleming's estate, says, "Right now, donations are down due to the economy.  For this amount of money to be given at this time, I think it's a great benefit for these local organizations."

Fleming was an animal lover and also donated $115,000 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

While the reclusive Mr. Fleming preferred operating under the radar, the gifts he left his community have not gone unnoticed.

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