Back Senior adults provide Christmas for impoverished East Tennessee children
October 5th, 2013
By Kaylan Christopher, Staff Writer
Polk County is one of the most impoverished areas in Tennessee, located in the extreme southeast corner of the state. The median annual household income is $17,000—less than half of the entire state's average.
Sue Raley, the Missions Coordinator with Brentwood Baptist's SeniorLink Ministry, said, "The area flourished years ago in the copper mining industry. But in the mid-20th century, the mines were stripped and closed, and the environment had been destroyed."
In 1978, 700 copper mining and milling jobs were terminated in the Ducktown area, leaving its residents with few other employment options. Then in 1986, the 900 remaining jobs were phased out.
In 1988, Al Patterson, a pastor in the area, and his wife mobilized their church to help these families in need. As a result, they established Copper Basin Crisis Center, which they continue to operate as North American Mission Board missionaries.
Each month, they support 850 residents in the area, passing out food, clothes, diapers, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, gasoline, and prayer. The Center also helps with medical expenses, utility and gas bills, and other needs as they arise.
In 2008, Sue connected with the Pattersons and set up a partnership between the Crisis Center and senior adults at Brentwood Baptist. Since then, they've delivered hundreds of Christmas stockings for children filled with toys, clothing, and more. And last year, they expanded their reach to include families.
This year is no different. On November 8, the senior adults will deliver the stockings directly to the Crisis Center during their Christmas celebration.
In 2012, the Crisis Center received around 1,300 letters from children asking for gifts that their families couldn't afford. Margaret Patterson said, "Whatever we do for them will be the only Christmas they have."
Here's what you can do:
1. Pick up a mesh Christmas stocking in the Atrium on Sundays, October 6 and 13.
2. Fill it with items from the supply list provided.
3. Return the filled stockings to the Atrium on Sundays, October 20 and 27.
4. Give the gift of Christmas to a child or family in need.