The annual Mission of Hope Christmas Drive is now underway to help thousands of children in rural Appalachia have a brighter holiday.

You can donate toys, warm clothes, toiletries and canned goods at the blue barrel locations around the area. Items should be new, unopened and unwrapped.

But Mission of Hope doesn't just bring presents to kids at Christmas time. They also support organizations and ministries that are serving on the front lines in communities year round.

And in many parts of rural Appalachia, a lot of the burden falls on the family resource officers in the elementary schools.

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"I've got 65 kids on the backpack program. That's desperate children. That's desperate, I could probably have a hundred on it," Rhonda Noble with Robinson Elementary said.

"We've been doing ministry in rural Appalachia communities for 20 years now," Mission of Hope's Emmette Thompson said.

"One of the reasons we keep coming back is that there is such dire need there and we feel like since there is dire need there that we have to keep being a service there, working through the schools and mountain ministries we work through." Thompson explained.

Collection barrels can be found throughout the Knoxville area at: Chick-fil-A, Food City, K-Mart, Home Federal, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union and Fisher Tire.

To make donations, become a Volunteer or for more information, please contact the Mission of Hope office at 865-584-7571; e-mail to info@missionofhope.org; visit our website at www.missionofhope.org; or mail to our mailing address at: Mission of Hope – P. O Box 51824 – Knoxville, TN 37950.