Whitesburg KY
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Tree of Hope to help children in need

A program created to provide clothes and toys to children in need at Christmastime is under new ownership.

Ashley Elkins, of Whitesburg, and Keanna Webb, of Jenkins, took over Letcher County Tree of Hope, Inc. on Aug. 4 and obtained 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service ( IRS) as a nonprofi t organization.

Elkins and Webb have compiled a list of more than 400 children ages newborn to 18 who will receive clothing essentials and toys through Letcher County Tree of Hope, Inc. this holiday season.

“There are so many kids this year whose family members are out of work,” said Elkins. “We just try to help as many as we can.”

Names are referred by representatives with the Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) program, Kentucky River Community Care, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Head Start, and the Family Resource and Youth Service Centers (FRYSC).

Elkins said that in order to be fair with all individuals, they are unfortunately unable to take individual requests to have children placed on the list. A person who thinks his or her family qualifies can contact one of the organizations for referral.

Elkins said people can pick up child information cards beginning next week. Shoppers are asked to buy a shirt, a pair of pants, a coat, a pair of shoes and two toys. If a shoe size isn’t listed on the information card, the shopper doesn’t need to buy shoes because another program has provided shoes for that particular child. Those who take an information card can buy more than the requested items. Suggested additional items are underwear, socks, gloves, scarves, toboggan or additional toys.

To ensure that all children get close to the same amount of gifts, Elkins and Webb ask that people don’t spend more than $150.

Elkins and Webb ask people to take necessary steps so that the gifts cannot be returned to stores. Remove all price tags from clothing or shoes. For items with barcodes on packages, color over the barcode with a black permanent maker.

All items for each child are to be placed in a large gift bag, box or garbage bag. Items may be wrapped individually and then placed in a large bag or box.

Place a label containing the identification number on each bag, box, or gift bag. Elkins and Webb will place the individual nametags on the packages.

Gifts can be left at one of three drop-off locations, the registration desk at Whitesburg Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, Woody Holbrook’s BP in Mayking or the Isom Branch of Whitaker Bank. Those who are unable to drop off gifts at one of the three designated locations should contact Elkins and Webb and arrangements will be made to pick up gifts.

December 1 is the deadline to turn in gifts.

Letcher County Tree of Hope has organized several upcoming fundraisers.

A Halloween Bash will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Cowan Community Center. The event will include food, a silent auction and costume contests for kids and adults. Admission is free. Seating is limited.

A haunted house will be held at the Letcher County Tourism building at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The event is sponsored by Brimstone Haunted Forest. Admission is $5 per person. Ages nine and above are permitted.

Pictures with Santa will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8 at the Ermine Senior Citizens Center. Pictures with Santa and a Nightmare Before Christmas backdrop will be available. Cost is $8 for both photos or $5 each. Digital images will be e-mailed to customers.

To buy items for children, volunteer for upcoming fundraisers or give a donation of money, clothing or toys, call or text Elkins at (606) 821-5767 or Webb at (606) 335-9166. Send e-mails to letchercotoh@gmail.com.

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