Williamsburg—University of the Cumberlands’ Mountain Outreach brought volunteers to the Williamsburg Walmart at midnight for their annual shopping spree. Every year, Mountain Outreach buys thousands of dollars worth of Christmas gifts that are distributed to local children at its annual gift day.
“We want substantial gifts for these kids,” Marc Hensley, director of Mountain Outreach, said. “This is the only Christmas these kids may have.”
This year, Mountain Outreach had nearly 380 children to shop for, in which they collected 778 gifts. The gifts collected at the shopping spree go to Mountain Outreach’s warehouse for the annual gift day, which was Dec. 13. According to Hensley, Mountain Outreach raised about $25,000 and spent about $10,000 to $15,000 on gifts at Walmart.
According to Hensley, Walmart manager, Stephen Centers, often gives discounts on items which Mountain Outreach buys in bulk, such as bicycles or certain toys. Most gifts fall into a $15 to $25 price range.
“(Centers) is very generous and courteous to us,” Hensley said. “We appreciate him and we appreciate the associates who give their times to help us do this.”
As midnight neared, Hensley announced to the crowd what they were to do. About 85 volunteers broke into groups, grabbed a shopping cart and sought out certain gifts pertaining to their assigned gender and age group.
“The best part is the number of students who come out and help,” Rick Fleenor, director of church relations, said. “The folks at Walmart do a great job; they’re great partners in the community for UC.”
Hensley expressed gratitude and appreciation on behalf of Mountain Outreach to those who either helped shop or raise funds. “The event would not have been possible without those who reached out a helping hand to Mountain Outreach,” he said. (UC)