Dec. 25, 2013 — More than 300 families received clothes, toys, and food from Project Merry Christmas on Saturday.
The program, which has been in Carter County for 31 years, touched the lives of 1,200 people through their annual giving. But the night before the big event was bustling with activity
“Just knowing that you're helping is worth it,” said board member Pam Kitchen. “There are so many families who wouldn't have a Christmas at all without this program.”
JROTC at East Carter wraps age appropriate gifts for the children, which are then set around tables for families to pick up.
Toys and books, clothing and food are given away after being purchased with donated funds.
Phyllis Davis is president of Project Merry Christmas and has been for more than 20 years.
“We spend around $30,000 on the project,” Davis said. “But every dollar given to the project goes to help the kids.”
The program is income-based and parents apply beginning each November through the Youth Service Center at their local schools.
“My favorite part is tomorrow,” Davis said. “Last year we were giving out toys and food vouchers and I heard a little boy say 'grandma we're going to get food!' Which was really sad, but you now it’s needed. I don't know why people want to send their money other places when we have real need here.”
The wrapped toys are purchased at Kmart, which gives the organization a 20 percent discount.
Youth Service Center spokeswoman Becky Walker helps find families in need review applications.
“We saw a few more applicants than we have seen in year's past,” Walker said. “I think that’s a sign of the time. I would love to see their smiles on Christmas morning but it is enough to know they are going to have a good Christmas.”