CHURCH HILL — As Santa loads up his sleigh this week for his big ride Saturday night, many of his helpers in Hawkins County have been spreading holiday joy for the past couple of weeks.
All this month churches, clubs and other groups across Hawkins County have been hosting parties for disadvantaged children as part of the Rogersville-based Of One Accord ministry’s “Christmas for the Children” program.
Tuesday the Church Hill United Methodist Church hosted 20 families including 38 children for an evening of food, holiday entertainment — and unbeknownst to the children — an early delivery from Santa Claus.
The Church Hill UMC’s youth group served supper to the families and then performed a holiday program.
The children at Tuesday’s Church Hill UMC party weren’t told about the hefty bag full of presents in another room waiting for their parents to collect on the way out.
“They don’t get to open them here,” Of One Accord Director Sheldon Livesay said. “The purpose and idea of the program is that we’re serving families that would not be able to provide Christmas for their own children, so in some situations this should be the only presents they get under the tree.”
Becky Ferrell, who helped organize Tuesday’s Church Hill UMC gift giveaway, said this year’s Christmas fund-raiser was the best ever for the church.
Each child writes down their first choice for a gift and two alternative options.
This year, most children who attended the Church Hill UMC party received all three present choices they wrote down.
Each child also received a coat, a pair of shoes, a couple pairs of pants, and two or three shirts.
Each child also received a “goody bag,” which for school-age children included a potpourri of school supplies, coloring books, toiletries and candy, and for pre-schoolers age-appropriate items like “sippy” cups, wipes and little toys.
Every family also received a Bible.
As for the food box, Livesay said they tried to include things to make one good holiday meal for a family. Each box included a large canned ham, a pumpkin pie, a bag of rolls, corn, beans, peas, mixed vegetables, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, instant mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, marshmallows, and cookies.
Teresa Arnold of Church Hill brought her 3-year-old son Logan and 6-year-old daughter Lexi. She was badly hurt in an accident a year ago and has been unemployed ever since.
“I’m very thankful for what they do,” Arnold said.
Patricia Sizemore of Church Hill brought her three grandchildren ages 3, 6 and 7.
She said Christmas morning would be “kind of sad for them” without the Christmas for the Children program.
“Without this program they might not get much for Christmas,” Sizemore said.
The Church Hill UMC party is one of more than 20 that took place across the county as part of this year’s “Christmas for the Children” serving a total of 850 Hawkins County children this year.
Last year, there were 950 food boxes distributed in Hawkins County as part of the program, but that number is up to 1,300 this year.
Families apply for the program each year through Of One Accord, which accepts them based on their economic need, and then Of One Accord serves some of the families while others are distributed to various groups and organizations across the county.comments powered by Disqus