Every year Hope House has been among the leading purveyors of both Christmas cheer and practical assistance to disadvantaged citizens of Blount County. This year, it’s not the only such purveyor – a number of churches and civic groups have Christmas outreach projects – but since the Salvation Army moved out, it’s the main corporate one. Its Christmas efforts are focused in two main areas: clothing and toys for children, and Christmas meals for adults. Christmas for kids
So far this year, Hope House has identified 310 children for sponsors to assist in providing clothes and toys. Basic clothing – jeans, shirts/tops, shoes, socks, underwear, and coats – are provided for all, including a toy for kids under 12. As of Monday, sponsors have been identified for 133 children, leaving 177 so far unsponsored, according to Hope House director Bud Jones.
“We desperately need for people – churches, clubs, businesses, individuals – to call Hope House at 625-4673 and volunteer to sponsor children. We have 177 un-sponsored right now but there’ll be more come in between now and Dec. 20,” Jones said. “We’ll also need a few volunteers to help us assemble the bags to go out to the families of each child,” he added. (Clothing bought by sponsors, who are given appropriate clothing sizes for each child, is brought to Hope House for assembly and distribution to families.)
“I thank the Lord for the faithfulness of Blount Countians at times like this. They come through with unbelievable generosity. And we need ’em again every year. But it’s really the kids that need them, and the kids need ’em now,” he said. Christmas for adults
Christmas ham dinners for 250-300 adults will be provided by cook Shirley Marsh using kitchen facilities at First Baptist Church of Oneonta to prepare food provided by Hope House with delivery by church members there and from other churches who volunteer their time to deliver the meals. Meals are provided to disabled and senior citizens in the area from lists compiled for that purpose. Patrons of The House of Kindness, located near the church, will pick up their dinners from the house where those who are hungry dine often during the week, courtesy of First Baptist. Fifty hams for Christmas meals were provided by HomeTown Bank, with Fieldstone Meats providing the effort to cut the hams into meal-sized portions.
Jones points out that the Christmas meal effort follows closely on the heals of a similar Thanksgiving meal mobilization in both Snead and Oneonta in which more than 800 people were served. Five churches in Snead collaborated on the effort. It’s an effort requiring close coordination and partnering by multiple churches, providers, and supporters, Jones said.