Spreading the Hope: Mission of Hope Brings Christmas to Needy Kids in Appalachia

Suddenly and spectacularly this holiday season, gymnasiums at 27 elementary schools in Appalachia – 16 of them in Eastern Kentucky – will transform into Christmas morning as students rush to receive new toys and clothing as part of Mission of Hope’s Christmas Campaign.

This season marks the 16th year for the campaign for MOH, a Knoxville-based Christian charity that serves the poorest counties in Appalachia – a grinding poverty that spans generations.

Among the 17,000 students Mission of Hope serves, at least 85% of students receive free or reduced lunch.

At Christmas, MOH volunteers from more than 40 churches, including NorthEast Christian Church in Lexington, set up a “toy store” in each of the school gyms.

As students, faculty and parents gather round the “store,” which is hidden by a plastic covering, the volunteers conduct a brief evangelical program before they pull back the plastic – and the faces of grateful children light up brighter than a Christmas tree.

“It’s magical,” MOH’s executive director Emmette Thompson said. “I can’t tell you all that I’ve seen since I’ve been with this ministry. It’s humbled me in a way nothing else could.”

Good-hearted people from Lexington can help spread the Hope by dropping off new toys, clothing, food and hygiene products from Friday, Nov. 18 to Monday, Dec. 5 in the MOH Big Blue Barrels located at Valvoline, Chick fil-A, CiCi’s Pizza, Lexington Family Magazine, and Appalachian Regional Healthcare Centers in Central Kentucky. Other local sponsors include radio stations 99.1 FM WJMM, 770 AM WCGW, 98.1 the Bull and 630 WLAP.

Folks also can make tax-deductible donations.

“I think there are enough good-hearted people in Lexington, and many of them have roots in Appalachia,” Thompson said. “They just need to know about us.

Items Most Needed Are:
Food Suggestions
Green Beans 16 oz.
Corn 16 oz.
Fruit 16 oz.
Soup 10.5 oz.
Tuna 7 oz.
Entree Items (Stew, Chili, etc.) 18 oz.
Saltine Crackers 16 oz.
Macaroni & Cheese 7.5 oz.
Oatmeal 18 oz.
Peanut Butter 18 oz.
Dried Beans 2 lb.
Sugar 5 lb.
Flour 5 lb.
Cornmeal 5 lb.
Rice 2 lb.

Non-perishable food items only
New and unopened items only
No glass containers
or microwavable items

Clothing Suggestions
(Sizes: Children’s 4-18)
Winter & Warm Weather Coats
Jeans, Shirts & Blouses
Socks & Underwear
Hats & Gloves

Toy Suggestions
(Suggested $15 value and above)
Action Figure Sets
Arts & Crafts Sets
Electronic games
Watches & Jewelry
Remote Control Vehicles
Gifts for Children 10-14 years old

Hygiene Suggestions
(Full Size Products Please)
Soap Bars
2-in-1 Shampoo with Conditioner
How You Can Help
To provide for the children of Appalachia, Mission of Hope counts on donations from people like you.

Big Blue Barrels for the Christmas Campaign can be found in Lexington at Valvoline, Chick-fil-A and CiCi’s Pizza, Lexington Family Magazine, and Appalachian Regional Hospital locations.

Children through eighth grade need new toys, clothes, warm coats, non-perishable food and hygiene items.

Big Blue Barrels are on display now through Monday, Dec. 5.

If you would like to make a financial donation, please send checks to:

Mission of Hope, 2901 Richmond Road, Suite 130 – Box #205, Lexington, KY 40509

Mission of Hope is a fully licensed 501c3 non-profit charity, so your donation is tax deductible.

Info: (877) 627-1909 or visit              www.missionofhope.org