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

By John Lynch

This season marks the 17th year of the Mission of Hope’s Christmas Campaign that serves the poorest counties in Appalachia, all of which have endured grinding poverty that spans generations.

MOH, a Knoxville-based Christian charity, serves 17,500 students at 27 schools. At least 85% of the students at those schools – many of them in Kentucky – receive free or reduced lunch.

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

As students and faculty gather round the “store,” which is hidden by a plastic covering, 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.”

People in Central Kentucky can help spread the hope by dropping off new toys, clothing, food and hygiene products from now through Monday, Dec. 3 in the MOH Big Blue Barrels.

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
No microwavable items

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 the following Central Kentucky locations.

Appalachian Regional Hospital
CiCi’s Pizza
Curves locations
Kid’s Place
Lexington Dance Factory
Lexington Family Magazine
Legacy Gymnastics
Monkey Joe’s
Premier Athletics
YMCA (3 Lexington locations)

Big Blue Barrels are on display now through Monday, Dec. 3.

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