Sacred Heart Schools Shares the Joy of Christmas with Children in Appalachia

Thanks to the efforts and generosity of the students, faculty and staff of Sacred Heart Schools, Christian Help of Mingo County will provide Christmas gifts to more than 100 families and more than 300 children.

The emergency assistance agency in Appalachia was started by Sister Mary Brendan Conlon, an Ursuline Sister, in 1994 who says, “After all these years, the gift drive demonstrates the caring actions of so many from Sacred Heart Schools. To me it is important to care for so many beautiful people who have had unfortunate circumstances because of coal mines closing.  The gift drive is quite simply, people caring for and serving people.”

Every year Sacred Heart Schools provides thousands of new gifts and dollars to support the Santa Shop program run by Christian Help of Mingo County ( ).  The program is needs-based and serves the local populous.  The “Santa Shop” is held just before Christmas and participating families are given the opportunity to shop for their children, choosing items they know their kids will enjoy.

Students in Sacred Heart Academy’s Community Awareness Committee (CAC) organize the drive and accompany the gifts to West Virginia. Once there, they unload the gifts and interact with the children served by the organization.  CAC Club student President, Jamie Ashlock says, “The trip to Kermit, WV, is truly something special every year. We have the opportunity to create community not only among ourselves, but with the community of Mingo County as well.”

Senior Erin Toller says, “My involvement with CAC and the drive has meant a lot to me, because it was the first thing that I did at Sacred Heart to get involved besides basketball. It is something that warms my heart and is something that I will continue to donate to for the rest of my life.” Destinee Marshall adds, “CAC has made a big impact on my life and has convinced me to take pride in helping others in need.”

Students treasure the rewarding opportunity to travel with faculty and parent volunteers to deliver the toys, clothing and other gifts to Christian Help. While in Kermit, the 15 student representatives will play with the children served by Christian Help and tour the region, gaining a better understanding of the hardships faced by many families living in the area.