ROGERSVILLE — Every Hawkins County child who qualified for a special Christmas program was served this year thanks to a late surge of contributions to the Of One Accord ministry in Rogersville.
Of One Accord ministry administers the “Christmas for the Children” program that serves all of Hawkins County.
Sheldon Livesay, director of the ministry, said last week he and his staff were grateful to area residents who responded to newspaper appeals for more contributions the week before Christmas when the program was in need of the resources to serve nearly 200 children.
Livesay said through community generosity, Christmas for the Children was able to ensure every child was given Christmas this year, including more than 80 children whose parent or guardian applied after the cut-off date.
For several years, the program has served almost the exact same number of children.
This year, however, there was a sizable increase in the number of families needing help.
From 825 children served in 2011, county residents applied for help for 937 children with an additional 80 children asking to be on a waiting list.
Christmas for the Children Director Patsy Hurd noted that the ministry guarantees all applicants who meet the application deadline will be served, but it depends on year-end donations whether late applicants can be served.
Livesay said the program’s bookkeeper brought him a report eight days before Christmas showing a deficit of $20,000.
He said a deficit that size could have severely hindered ministry activities in the year ahead.
In addition to allowing gifts of $50 per child, the program also provided 1,201 Christmas food boxes complete with traditional Christmas meals with turkeys or hams.
“Through an appeal from local papers, community response provided enough support to cover all
Please see OF ONE, PA G E 10A gifts and food for those who submitted applications on time and also enough for those on the waiting list,” Livesay said. “We’ve learned if we’re doing God’s work, He always provides for it.”
Christmas for the Children tries to direct manageable size numbers of children to area churches or other public places when families receive a meal, then a short program is provided.
After the program, families are allowed to take their children’s gifts and Christmas food boxes home.
For the past several years, it has taken 15-17 parties to serve these children, but this year, 27 parties were planned.
Livesay said the ministry has served a record number of people this year, but the Christmas program is the chore his staff enjoys the most — to be a part of making children happy for the holidays.
Hurd echoed the excitement of expressing great thanks to area residents sensitive to the needs of those around them.