The Mission of Hope Christmas Barrel drive continues through December 9th so can still help children and families of rural Appalachia.

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Mission of Hope continues to collect items for Christmas through December 9. Look for the blue barrels and donate non-perishable food, new clothes, and new toys. Brian Holt and Emily Stroud

The Mission of Hope Christmas Barrel drive continues through Monday December 9th so you still have a chance to help children and families of Appalachia this holiday season.

Volunteers are so committed to this ministry.

Executive Director Emmette Thompson shares letters with those who donate their time.

"We love all the gifts that you brung to us kids. Your friend, Hunter. Isn't that cool? And that is brung," he said with a smile.

Letters like that make the hours working in this warehouse worth it for volunteers like Shawna Dittrich.

"These children really, really need our help. They are in a desperate situation. I visit them twice a year and I see the needs they have," Shawna Dittrich said.

She worked as a physical therapist then retired about seven years ago.

"During my years in physical therapy I ran into a lot of people from Appalachia and knew about all the need they had medically and economically so this was a perfect fit when I found out about Mission of Hope," she said.

Shawna volunteers in the clothing section of the Mission of Hope warehouse, sorting and packing clothes.

"It is hard work. It is physically demanding but the rewards far outweigh the physical effort that you have to put in to it," she said.

The organization is blessed with dedicated volunteers like Shawna. But there's a real need for more donations as the food, clothing, and toy drive winds down.

"We can provide the warm clothing, shoes, socks, and everything that they need to have a good school year," she said. "It's cold here but it is desperately cold up in southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee and these children are school age and they're growing so they are going to outgrow the coat we gave them last year so so we desperately need warm, warm coats for them this year."

You can donate to Mission of Hope. Just look for blue barrels and drop in non-perishable food, new clothes, and new toys.

"Please give. Anything would be helpful," she said.

Some of the biggest needs right now are warm coats, peanut butter, and dried pinto beans. Toys that are in short supply are large stuffed animals, remote control vehicles, and baby dolls.

The Mission of Hope collects food, toys, and clothes all year to help the needy in our region,

For example, volunteers drive trucks from Blaine, Kentucky to the Mission of Hope warehouse in Knoxville every few weeks.

They pick up donated items here to distribute in their rural community. Blaine Outreach serves about 700 children in the local schools there.

"There have been a lot of kids who really enjoy getting the clothing from Mission of Hope. It made them feel better about themselves on account of they didn't really have the clothes that other kids had. We were able to fulfill that need with Mission of Hope," Lenny Wheeler with Blaine Outreach said.

They hope to provide every child a new pair of shoes this Christmas.

Contact Mission of Hope at:
P.O. Box 51824
Knoxville, TN 37950-1824

Contact Blain Outreach at:
P.O. Box 100
Blaine, KY 41124

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