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Cumberlands Mountain Outreach Helps to Make Christmas 'Merry'


Inside the Mountain Outreach warehouse on Saturday, December 10th, parents lined up to gather toys for their children for Christmas.

Williamsburg, Ky. – Everywhere you look today there are children in need. In need of food; in need of clothing; in need of shelter; in need of love and having something to believe in. University of the Cumberlands (UC) Mountain Outreach (MO) program has long been an advocate of providing children with the care they need. On Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10 MO held their annual Children Gift Day to give families the opportunity to pick out gifts for their children for Christmas.

“Each gift that we pass out could change a kid’s life forever,” exclaims MO Director Marc Hensley. “We may never know it, but because of that one chance to have a positive impact is what validates why we do this.”


A MO student helps a family choose from the gifts available.

Each family that arrived to Gift Day was overly excited and thankful for what MO is able to provide to the families desperately seeking help. In all there were 171 families that took part in the event; meaning that over 400 kids will be able to have gifts waiting on them Christmas morning.

Each family also received a $50 food card from the local SAV-A-LOT, located in Williamsburg, to show the community someone out there still cares about them. “A lot of people are having a hard time surviving in today’s world,” says SAV-A LOT Manager Teddy Anders. “This lets others know that good people still exist that care about this community.”

Families were also offered free clothing from the Community Distribution Center (CDC) after they were done picking out gifts. Everyone was able to get 2 trash bags full of clothing. “Like the Glasgow church group that comes back year after year to help with Gift Day and the CDC, it is important to invest in the community and through us share the love of God to the participants,” explains Dr. Anita Bowman, UC Assistant Professor Exercise and Sports Science. For the last four years Dr. Bowman has been in charge of running the CDC during Gift Day.

The groups that participated in this year’s event include Cedars Hill Baptist Church (Williamston, NC), Clinch River Baptist Church (Clinton, TN), Corral Hill Baptist Church (Glasgow, KY), Emmanuel Baptist Church (Glasgow, KY), Green Meadows Baptist Church (Moxville, NC), Jellico Creek Baptist Church (Williamsburg, KY) Main Street Baptist Church (Clinton, TN), and Shangar Ministries (Hawkinsville, GA). Also lending a helping hand was Linda Duncan of Nashville, TN. She provided all the Children’s Bibles, Adult’s Bibles, and other children’s books like the Nativity Scene that were given to families.

“We have to light the path and provide a good example for these kids; they look towards us for guidance when it comes to family, community, and church,” said Hensley. “If we don’t do something then it will all crumble beneath us.”

With each moment that passes without change or an act of kindness a child is being left behind. Currently, according to the NCCP (National Center for Children in Poverty) there are over 1.5 million children in America who go to sleep without a home and 21% of children have to live below the poverty line. Its programs like MO and the people that dedicate their services to the cause that are changing the lives of children on a regular basis. Anyone interested in helping Cumberlands Mountain Outreach program or learning more information can visit

Mountain Outreach has been nationally recognized for its work several times: the Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty selected it as one of ten charities to receive the Samaritan Award; USA Today noted the program in its 1996 “Make a Difference Day” competition; and President George H. Bush honored Mountain Outreach as his 220th Daily Point of Light.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; seven graduate degrees, including a doctorate and six master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs.