Christmas is celebrated in many different ways. Homes have trees decorated with twinkling lights, mantles adorned with garland and red bows. Gifts are wrapped in shiny paper and placed under the tree, waiting to be exchanged with family and friends on Christmas morning.
Special meals are prepared and families meet together to eat, while they reminisce and talk about important events that took place during the year. The children are so excited to see the toys Santa has placed under the tree for them.
But many people are not able to celebrate this holiday due to illness, unemployment, and other circumstances beyond their control. Under these conditions, HOPEtown, which is 100% funded by donations, sponsors and oversees several different programs, which provides food, clothing, and gifts to those less fortunate.
Frank Sullivan, Executive Director of HOPEtown and president of The Salvation Army, coordinates the details for “Cops for Kids” which is sponsored by the Lewisburg Police Dept. Local schools in Marshall County provide names of children who will potentially not have a Christmas. On Dec. 7, these children were provided breakfast and lunch and were given money to buy gifts for their family and themselves.
HOPEtown is the sponsor of the Angel Tree Program. Approximately 150-200 children are selected by the schools to have their names added to the Angel Tree. Businesses, as well as individuals, select names and purchase items that are requested by the children. Applications are provided to the parents/guardians which show the child’s age, interests, sizes of clothing, etc. Using this method, the children will receive gifts they desire and clothes that will fit them.
HOPEtown partners with Marshall County Senior Citizens and a prominent business in Lewisburg to provide gifts and items to senior citizens. On Christmas Eve morning, Sullivan, puts on that red suit and white beard, and distributes these gifts and items to several seniors in the county. For many of the recipients, he is the only person they will see over the Christmas holiday.
The Salvation Army sponsors “bell ringing” each Christmas season. Volunteers ring the bell as money is dropped into the kettle. These funds purchase food for residents of Marshall County. The food is stored in HOPEtown’s pantry and distributed when there is a need, which in the past, is often.
These programs are certainly a necessity for this area - so many people need help and HOPEtown’s existence is very critical, especially during the Christmas season. A special thanks to Sullivan, his wife, Julie, and the many volunteers that make this program possible.
If you would like to make a donation to HOPEtown, it will be greatly appreciated. You can contact Frank Sullivan at 931-993-7791.
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