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This is the last weekend to help the Mission of Hope

3:59 PM, Nov 30, 2012   |    comments
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We are entering the final weekend of this year's Mission of Hope Christmas Drive, which ends December 3.  You have until Monday to drop off your donations.  They are in special need this year of larger-sized women's coats, corn meal, and toys for boys & girls, aged 10-14.

You can drop of new toys, food, clothing, non-perishable food and hygiene items at Knoxville-area Food City, Chick-fil-A, Kmart, Home Federal, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, and CVS stores.

For more information, including how to donate, suggested items, and volunteer opportunities, go the Mission of Hope website.

Bill Williams urges help for Mission of Hope

There are thousands of children in the poverty-plagued areas of the Appalachian Mountains who won't have much of a Christmas, unless the Mission of Hope comes to their communities.

This year, because of a worsening economic climate in the mountains, the Mission of Hope is facing the biggest challenge ever in trying to fulfill the Christmas dreams of more than 17,000 children.

10News anchor emeritus Bill Williams recently made his annual trip to the mountains to share some of their stories.

"This is one of those pockets of poverty we talk about scattered throughout the Appalachian Mountains, where people struggle daily to maintain some kind of lifestyle. And this is where the Mission of Hope comes to bring food, clothing, toys and most of all, hope," says Bill.

Hopelessness is nothing new in the mountains of Appalachia. Poverty has etched it's sad story throughout these mountains for generations.

But now, it may be worse than ever. The coal business, the economic life blood in the mountains, is nearly shut down because of environmental regulations.

Martha Watts is a family resource coordinator in the Letcher County, Kentucky schools.

"Families that have never had to ask for anything are now having to step by that pride and say, I'm going to do what I need to do for my family.' But they're calling me for the first time in their life, and I've known them all my life, saying I need help now," says Watts.

Kem Collins is not ashamed to ask for help, help that is badly needed in taking care of the six children she looks after. She has three of her own and three from her extended family. It's very common in the mountains to take in other family members, even if you have a hard time raising your own. And they do have a hard time. Kem's husband was job hunting the day Bill visited the family.

"Yeah, he goes every day and looks for work and with the coal mines shut down there isn't any," says Collins.

As for Christmas, without help, there's no hope for anything special for the kids.

"Because this Christmas is going to be rougher than it ever has been. Because there's no.. there's very little that's been saved back. It's took everything to pay everything we need to pay," says Collins.

But Christmas is coming to the Collins family, an early Christmas, from the Mission of Hope. Gifts of food, clothing, and toys. That's the goal of the Mission of Hope, to bring some relief for awhile from the tragedy of poverty. To bring some hope.

There's nothing merry about Christmas for the Adams family, either, because they have to struggle just to meet their daily needs.

"They didn't even have a Christmas tree last year," says Pamela Adams.
 
For the three children, their hopes and dreams for Christmas just don't come true.

"If it wasn't for like churches and people that sponsors my children, they wouldn't have anything," says Adams.

Over on the other side of the county, it's not much better for the Baileys.

Ryan Bailey does have a job, at Walmart where he makes $7.85 an hour., but buying the gas it takes to drive the 80 miles round trip to work cuts deeply into his pay check.  And he hasn't been getting many hours at work.

"Me and Christy sold about every thing we had. Pawned stuff and got it back out. It's been rough," he says.

The Baileys aren't sure that anyone outside of these mountains really understands what poverty is all about.

"But until they've been there and they've struggled, especially with kids, they don't know how hard it is," says Christy Bailey.

"There's nothing noble about poverty. There's certainly nothing pretty about poverty. It's a demeaning, terrible condition. But when the Mission of Hope comes with gifts, with love, somehow things look better. Because then, there is hope," says Bill Williams.

When the Mission of Hope bring Christmas early to the three children in the Adams family, and to Haley and Allie in the Bailey family, then those families realize there are people who know about their struggles.  That there are people who care.

"It means a lot when they help you, and they don't talk about you or criticize what you do, they try to help. It means a lot" says Christy Bailey.

Friends from the other side of the mountain bringing gifts, bringing the spirit of Christmas.

Packages put together with unconditional love, and filled with hope.

How to help

To help make sure that more than 17,000 children in the mountains of Appalachia have a good Christmas, please contribute to the mission of hope christmas drive that starts Friday.

You can drop of new toys, food, clothing, non-perishable food and hygiene items at Knoxville-area Food City, Chick-fil-A, Kmart, Home Federal, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, and CVS stores.

For more information, including how to donate, suggested items, and volunteer opportunities, go the Mission of Hope website.

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