Mission of Hope would not be possible without volunteers. Men and women devote countless hours all year, but especially at this time before Christmas. Many of them come back year after year.
Labeling blue barrels is just one job for volunteers at Mission of Hope. At the warehouse they sort food and clothes and toys to pack into boxes for delivery to children in rural Appalachia, children living in poverty.
"I went on one of the deliveries and that cemented it. I've been doing it for 22 years," Jim Montgomery said.
He remembers that first delivery when the volunteers set up donated items. Then they covered the tables with black plastic in a school gymnasium.
"We took the black plastic off and they could see all the toys. And it was just one loud scream and I can still remember that," he said.
Mission of Hope always needs new clothes, and early on someone donated a lot of new shoes for the kids.
"I got one little boy and he didn't know what size he wore so I had to go through and I would put a pair on him, tie them, feel the toe. That was all I knew to do," Montgomery said. "And usually there was a little bit of space. And he would get up and walk two or three steps and I would say how does that feel and he would say no sir, these are too small. So I would get another pair. It would be a little bit larger. He would do the same thing. I would say how do those feel. No sir, they are too small. I did that for three pair and they kept getting larger and larger and I finally I said son these shoes are way too big for you. And he dropped his head. He said yes sir, I know, but that's how my mom buys them."
Experiences like that keep Montgomery committed to Mission of Hope with no plans to stop.
"Until I can't do it anymore," he said.
Volunteering at the warehouse is physically demanding and most volunteers are retired. They put in long hours on their feet to help children in need.