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Mountain Outreach holds Gift Day


Many volunteers were on hand to lend a helping hand during the annual Mountain Outreach Gift Day.

EMLYN, Ky. - The Mountain Outreach warehouse doors were swung wide open on December 8 for the annual Holiday Gift Day. Not only were the building's doors opened, but also were the doors to the hearts of the 150 volunteers who worked many, many hours and to those individuals and organizations that made thousands of dollars of donations. With their generosity, 1089 people of the community flowed in throughout the day choosing from a multitude of toys, clothing, household items and food.

Volunteers ranged from University of the Cumberlands students to faculty and friends. In addition, there were volunteers from several churches from Glasgow to Georgia. All were as starry-eyed in the spirit of giving as the recipients were in the face of the generosity of the day.


Even Santa was on hand during the annual Mountain Outreach Gift Day to entertain the children of the waiting families.

"The volunteers brought toys, clothes, Bibles and money with them. They are not just here to work," said Marc Hensley, Mountain Outreach's director.

“Mountain Outreach is so blessed to have such an outpouring of help and assistance from all over the southeastern United States, but what is more important is that the community has responded fantastically with both physical labor and financial support for this ministry, this is evident here today”.

With a donation of eight tons of food, Feed the Children enabled each family to leave with a box of food along with their gifts. Jerry Thomas with Feed the Children assisted the Mountain Outreach station workers in their efficiency of handling the hundreds of people served that day.

This year, a new system was put in place for pre-registration to pinpoint more precise demographics. Each family provided proof of income and number and ages of children, so the dollars spent on toys and clothes were better economized. Each family was also issued a number, so they didn't have to wait in long lines for hours in the pouring rain before entering the warehouse. Tommy's Motorsports, of Clinton, Tenn., donated the use of a brand new Arctic Cat ATV for shuttling participants throughout the day.

Another first was the University's student volunteers of the Kentucky Education Association Student Program (KEA-SP), who worked with the children in reading and writing, and provided games while their parents were free to peruse the merchandise.

Another volunteer was "Santa," played by James Cook, a member of Omega Force Strength Power Team, a Christian organization based in Scottsville, Ky. The other members of Omega Force, who performed "amazing feats of strength" such as tearing phonebooks and breaking concrete blocks, were on hand to not only entertain people waiting for their numbers to be called, but to share the Gospel as well.

In addition to the annual Holiday Gift Day, Mountain Outreach, a ministry of University of the Cumberlands, builds homes for underprivileged families in southeastern Kentucky. Since the program's start in 1982, Mountain Outreach has constructed and repaired more than 126 homes for members of the surrounding communities. It has been nationally recognized for its work several times: the Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty selected it as one of ten charities to receive the Samaritan Award; USA Today noted the program in its 1996 "Make a Difference Day" competition; and President George H. Bush honored Mountain Outreach as his 220th Daily Point of Light.

University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, is a private liberal arts college in its 118th year of operation. Cumberlands offers four undergraduate degrees in 37 major fields of study, 30 minors and nine pre-professional programs, graduate degrees and certifications in education as well as online programs.