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Boxes full of good tidings provide holiday help

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Helping Hand of Hope prepares food, gifts for Friday distribution

By Marty Finley

Helping Hand of Hope Executive Director David Dozer described volunteers at Magnet Business Park on Monday as Santa’s little elves working feverishly to give needy families a good Christmas this year.

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A warehouse space the charitable agency has been occupying inside the business center was chock full of toys, clothes and food items Monday as volunteers unloaded more shipments of donated goods while others sorted and organized items and some filled food boxes with the essentials for a proper Christmas meal.

Dozer said about 1,000 children were adopted this year as part of Helping Hand of Hope’s Christmas program and roughly 700 families will receive hearty food baskets filled to the brim with all the trimmings needed. Sheri Reynolds, an AmeriCorps VISTA with Helping Hand of Hope, said the baskets include ham, canned vegetables, stuffing mixes and cake mixes among other items. The baskets and gifts will be delivered to families Friday, Dozer said.

Kids who are adopted through the program will be able to benefit from diversity as the tables and boxes were overflowing with toy trucks, play kitchens, stuffed animals, action figures, baby dolls and Razor scooters.

Reynolds said they also have extra toys and clothes on hand to fill in boxes where needed or if some of the donated clothing is the wrong size.

Volunteers also estimated at least 100 bicycles will be delivered to children as part of the program. If the bikes arrive in pieces, they are assembled by Helping Hand of Hope, Reynolds said. Bike tires also are aired up and each bike is checked to make sure it is safe and working appropriately, she added.

Volunteer Maggie Thompson was hanging clothes and arranging toys Monday morning, making sure to refresh areas where supplies were running low. Thompson said the program tries to provide useful gifts for older children and teenagers who may have outgrown toys and games, such as cologne and arts and crafts kits.

Thompson said some children may only request clothing and an mp3 player so the items help to round out the gift.

“It’s fun,” she said of her time as a volunteer. “I get to play Santa Claus.”

Dozer said the program has been around since at least the 1970s and the large outpouring of assistance and massive supply of donations proves how much the community cares for local children and families in need.

Volunteer Bill Nelson remembers the early days, having worked with the program for 39 years.

“We started out with six boxes,” he said.

Ina LeVay, a self-professed country girl from West Virginia who has lived in the county for decades, has been assisting the program for 18 years or more and said the children keep her coming back.

“I just think of all the smiles on the little ol’ kids’ faces,” LeVay said. “It makes the best Christmas.”

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.

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