Friendship students help with Sneedville outreach efforts

Xavier Smith • Updated Dec 3, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Friendship Christian School students continued their annual tradition Friday of assisting Possumtown Outreach with preparing a truckload of needed items in one of the country’s poorest counties.

The students prepped sugar bags for families in Sneedville, located in Hancock County. The sugar, along with other necessary items and toys, will be filled in a tractor-trailer in downtown Possomtown, across from Friendship Christian School, until Dec. 16, when they’ll be delivered to families in Hancock County.

Deliveries to the families will be made in cooperation with the Hancock County Rescue Squad on Dec. 17.

For about the last 20 years, Wilson County commissioner Jerry McFarland has spearheaded Possumtown Outreach in hopes of helping the Sneedville area.

“The community is not prosperous,” said McFarland, who noted the town’s location between two mountains make it difficult for industry to exist in the area.

“It’s just a rural community – like going back in the 1930s and 1940s ­– it’s not growing.”

McFarland noted that Hancock County is the poorest county in Tennessee and the sixth-poorest county in the United States. He said the group tries to help once a year at Christmas with clothes, toys, food, bedding and sanitary items.

Student volunteers Friday included Brooke Eakes, Anna Cate Kulas, Riley Walker, Mason Ballinger, Will Stallworth and Lauren Lamont.

Lamont said she became involved with the group through the school’s mission team and classes. She said one importance of mission work is to gain an understanding for other people and cultures.

“I think it’s definitely important to see how different people live, especially in places like Sneedville. It gives you a humbling experience to help them and give back to people who don’t have the things we have, especially during Christmas season when kids don’t get the toys or even clothes they need,” Lamont said.

McFarland said many families in Hancock County during cold weather months are faced with the heat or eat dilemma.

“We try to supplement that eating part so that, hopefully, they can reroute their resources to heat their homes and provide for their kids and families,” McFarland said.

“I think it’ll be something I’ll do after high school,” said Lamont, who said she even wants to continue to help with Sneedville after high school.

“It gives you a really good feeling to know you helped with their families and people there because you know you’ve really helped them,” she said.

Donations may be dropped off anytime directly at the trailer during daylight hours. Anyone who needs assistance with a donation may call McFarland at 615-330-8474. Monetary donations may be mailed to Possomtown Outreach, P.O. Box 26, Lebanon, TN, 37088.

Donations may also be brought to the Possomtown Christmas Parade, which will be Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. and start in front of Friendship Christian School. Roger McKinney will be the grand marshal.


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