For the 11th consecutive year, members of the Appalachian Outreach Ministry traveled to Williamsburg in an effort to share the “love of Jesus Christ” and items to help make people’s lives a little easier, said Yvonne Piercy, director of the Appalachian Outreach Ministry and WMU Director at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church.
The 65 volunteers gave away free food and clothing. Participants could get free haircuts. The volunteers shared free cleaning supplies, and offered things life free blood pressure checks.
The Appalachian Outreach Ministry is a group of about 17 churches primarily from the Knoxville, Tennessee area that does mission work in Appalachia in places like West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.
The group first included Williamsburg in its mission work about 11 years ago.
At the time, the Williamsburg effort was lead by Jeanette Thomas, who lived in Whitley County as a child and remembered how community members tried to help her and her struggling family survive when she was young.
Thomas started the effort in Williamsburg as a way to give back to the community that helped her as a child, and the effort continues today despite the fact she is no longer able to physically help with the effort.
Piercy, who now leads the outreach effort, said the group is composed of primarily senior citizens, which makes getting volunteers on a weekday a lot easier.
“There is no asking off. We just come,” Piercy added.
Cedaridge Ministries played host for the two-day giveaway Monday and Tuesday at its facility off Exit 15 in Goldbug.
Cedaridge President and Director Keith Decker said the effort is badly needed in the community.
“During the summer, we get a lot of food to give away from so many groups. During the fall, there isn’t a whole lot we can give the people because there aren’t a lot of groups to come,” Decker said.
He added that this time of month, several people also start to run low on money, which makes it harder to buy things like food.
“This kind of thing is needed for these families,” Decker noted. “They get groceries. They don’t just get the stuff that’s extra. They get to pick it out. They get to shop just like they would at a store except it is free to them. There is lots of clothing and lots of hygiene stuff. It is very needed. People are still trying to get jobs.”