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When country star Alan Jackson tips his white Stetson to the folks in his hometown, they know he's the real thing.

"He worked right here as a waiter in the dining room," says Donald Sprayberry, owner of Sprayberry's Barbecue, a local landmark. "He always used to be as bashful and quiet as he is right now. That's no put on. He is a really fine boy. That's just his nature."

Jackson was scheduled to headline a benefit concert today at Newnan High, where he and his wife, Denise, went to school. Proceeds will help build an emergency children's shelter.

Since December, $400,000 has been raised, much of it from donations, yard sales, fishing tournaments, even a haircut-a-thon. The shelter also received a $50,000 state grant and five acres from Temple Inland timber company.

The emergency shelter will be called Angel's House. It will offer 30- to 90-day emergency care in a 10-bed facility. Plans to open are tentatively set for early 2002.

Jackson remains modest.

"All I'm going to do is show up and sing."

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