Churches across the country travel to Pike County for Christmas giveaway

Plenty of gifts were given by Santa at Thankful Hearts Food Pantry's 20th Christmas Giveaway.
Plenty of gifts were given by Santa at Thankful Hearts Food Pantry's 20th Christmas Giveaway.(WYMT)
Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 5:08 PM EST
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Churches from Maryland and North Carolina have descended on Pikeville as Thankful Hearts Food Pantry hosted its 20th Christmas Giveaway in the Pikeville Area YMCA gym on Saturday. The non-profit gave away winter clothes, blankets, toys, and more to those in need.

Many years ago, a church group from North Carolina came to Eastern Kentucky for a backyard bible study, but the group was searching for a way to serve the small community during the daytime on its trip.

Luckily, the group stumbled upon Thankful Hearts Food Pantry as it was preparing for its annual Back-to-School Giveaway in July.

“They were getting ready for the summer giveaway,” said Sandy Motley, a member of Trading Ford Baptist Church in Salisbury, N.C. “My sister came back to North Carolina, called me the next year, and said ‘wanna go to Kentucky on a mission trip?’”

Soon after, through family connections at churches across the county, churches from Maryland decided to hop in and contribute to the mission trip.

“It’s a tradition for us. Every Christmas Giveaway,” said Associate Pastor Greg Cochran of Woodbrook Baptist Church of Baltimore, Md., “We average 10 to 15 youth that comes down along with a few adults.”

Along with a national presence, plenty of folks from Pike County joined in on serving their own community along with Thankful Hearts including some UPIKE medical school and undergraduate students.

“It makes you think about all that you take for granted,” said volunteer, UPIKE undergrad student, and Pikeville native, Morgan Carroll. “I thought the kids would be more excited about toys or Santa, but to see those little kids, the joy on their face to a new jacket, I mean, it’s just heartwarming, it is.”

Although the event met the physical needs of those attending, it also gave folks a chance to connect again after the pandemic shut down the event in 2020.

“To come and be with people and interact with families is just so important,” said Cochran. “That’s what it’s all about. I think that’s why we’re created, is for a relationship and to be able to relate to one another.”

All of the churches involved will immediately be preparing for next year’s giveaway. Gathering supplies, donations, and items to give to families in need in 2022.

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