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Mountain Outreach Brings Christmas to Pleasant View and Boston Elementary


WILLIAMSBURG, KY— As classes upon classes of wide-eyed elementary students poured into the gymnasium of Boston and Pleasant View Elementary, students held hands with their older siblings as they eagerly shopped for a Christmas gift for mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa that were provided by University of the Cumberlands’ Mountain Outreach (MO) program. On December 2nd and 3rd, Mountain Outreach supplied Pleasant View Elementary and Boston Elementary with free gifts for the students to get for their family members as they try to embed in them the true gift of giving.

Mountain Outreach Director, Marc Hensley, Assistant Director, Jonathan Bowman, team member Dirk Berta, and UC students from the men’s baseball team, track and field, and the men’s wrestling team, volunteered their spare time to come out and help MO with the gifts. The UC students helped MO unpack the gifts and nicely display them on tables for the children to see. The students were able to take home two gifts; they could choose from mom gifts, dad, grandpa, or grandma. After their gifts were carefully selected, the UC students wrapped the gifts for them and helped them write their names on it along with its recipient’s.


“If we could go to every single school in Whitley County, I would gladly do so, but it just isn’t possible right now,” admitted MO Director, Marc Hensley. “We want the children to have the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. It makes the children just as happy to give the gifts as to receive them and that alone is magical.”

The elementary students appeared rather timid at first but the excitement was apparent in their eyes. The UC athletes led them around and explained the different gift choices to them and engaged in conversation trying to bring the students at ease. The Patriot mascot, PatriotPride, made his way through the crowded gyms as well, giving the students high fives after they received their gifts and even took a few pictures with the students at their request.

“We just really wanted to do something to help out this year,” said UC’s head baseball coach, Brad Shelton. “I honestly feel like we get more out of this than the kids do. It is a great experience.”

MO generously gave of their own money to purchase the gifts for the 500 elementary students to give to their loved ones for Christmas. The gifts were bought from Fun Services Merchandise out of Aston, Pennsylvania and all of the items that were not taken, can be sent back to the company for a refund. The gifts included various decorated mugs for mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa, bracelets, plaques, business card holders, and several other intriguing items.

“The company seemed really shocked that we weren’t interested in getting pricing tools or price tags for these items,” said Hensley. “It took me a while to make them realize what we were doing but after they figured out that we weren’t making the students pay for the gifts, they showed much respect to us and even gave us a discount after they understood our cause. The couple who owns the company is amazing.”

Mountain Outreach provides programs for parents to get gifts for their children as well as this program, where the children are given the opportunity to get a gift for their loved ones. The most important lesson that MO is trying to teach is the joy and excitement of giving, not the gift itself.

“My daddy loves baseball,” said a young Pleasant View student to a UC baseball player. “I know he would want this baseball picture frame for Christmas. I bet he would even like it better if my picture were in it. This is the first time he has gotten a present from me and I think he is going to love it.”

The faculty and staff from both elementary schools were more than welcoming to MO and the UC athletes and were extremely helpful when it came to providing order and structure with the children. Principal Blakely from Pleasant View was grateful for the services MO had provided for his student body and continued to thank them for a job well done.

“I hope to always have the opportunity to do this every year around Christmas time and even expand to other schools if possible,” said Hensley to his workers. “Thank you to everyone who came out and helped. I appreciate you volunteering your time and we honestly could not have done any of this without your help.”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; 10 pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit