Christmas came early for students at Yellow Creek School on Tuesday.
“This is the 13th year the Mission of Hope has come to Yellow Creek,” said Patricia West, the family resource youth service center (FRYSC) director.
Bell County Schools Superintendent Yvonne Gilliam noted “We are so grateful. (The Mission of Hope) has not missed one year (since they started).”
This year, 572 students ranging in age from preschool through eighth grade had the chance to participate in the event at the school.
The event began with volunteers choosing students and teachers to participate in games including Jingle in the Trunk, Tweeze Me and Minute to Win It. The crowd enthusiastically cheered on their favorite participants.
After the games, the praise team from the First Baptist Church of Maryville, Tenn., performed several Christmas classics. They also played updated rock versions of the “Little Drummer Boy,” “Joy to the World,” and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.”
Mission of Hope Executive Director Emmette Thompson read “The Crippled Lamb” to students.
After the story, the event took a break for lunch and Mission of Hope volunteers were served a home-cooked meal prepared by the staff at Yellow Creek. The staff prepares a meal each year to show their appreciation to volunteers.
While the volunteers ate lunch, the eighth-grade choir sang Christmas songs.
After lunch, each child selected two toys from a wide variety of items which had been displayed by the volunteers.
The most popular toys for the older boys were fishing poles, binoculars and cologne. The older girls chose purses, jewelry, perfume and hair dryers.
The younger boys chose Lego’s, board games and cars, while the younger girls chose baby dolls and strollers.
Once the children selected their toys, they took them to a volunteer who put them in a gift bag filled with hygiene products and a Bible story book.
A select few students were also given clothes. These children each received an outfit, a pair of gloves, a hat, a pack of underwear, a pack of socks, and a winter coat.
The students with younger siblings at home were assisted by the volunteers with selecting toys to take home to them.
Students unable to attend the festivities will receive their treat bag when they return to school this week.
If any student is unable to attend school prior to the holiday break, West will deliver the items to their home so the children can enjoy their presents before the holiday.
Mission of Hope volunteer Carol Lewis brings donations to the school throughout the year, said West. She brings shoes, clothes or other items the children may need.
She is in constant contact with West to make sure the needs of Yellow Creek students are met.
The Mission of Hope will be traveling to 27 schools this Christmas season. More than 17,500 children from those schools will receive gifts from the organization.
If you have questions or would like to donate or volunteer, contact the Mission of Hope at 865-584-7571.
Reina Cunningham is a staff writer at the Middlesboro Daily News and can be reached via phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 205.