The 23rd Annual Appalachian Gift Drive was held by each member of Sacred Heart Schools: Sacred Heart Academy (girls, grades 9-12), Sacred Heart Model School (coed, K-8), Sacred Heart Preschool (coed, ages 1-5) and Sacred Heart School for the Arts (coed, all ages). 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 was started by Sr. Brendan Conlon, an Ursuline Sister, in 1994.
Every year SHS provides thousands of new gifts and dollars to support the Santa Shop program run by Christian Help of Mingo County. The Santa Shop program is designed to provide those in most need with new gifts for their family as well as the ingredients for a nice Christmas dinner. 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.
Sacred Heart Academy's Community Awareness Committee (CAC) organizes the event. CAC Club student President, Margaret Cunningham had this to say about the drive, "I am passionate about the Appalachian Gift drive because I believe the kids living in Kermit, West Virginia deserve an equal opportunity to experience the magic of Christmas. The relationships we as a Sacred Heart community have formed year after year with these children and families who benefit from the Appalachian Gift drive have made me fall in love with the spirit of giving and realize the impact of this service tradition."
The drive also impacts CAC Advisor and SHA faculty member Jane Cruthirds in a special way. She says, "the Appalachia Gift Drive is important because it connects the current Sacred Heart Schools Community to the Louisville Ursulines' openness and eagerness to serve the needs of others. For me, the gift drive is a way to continue the servant leadership efforts of Sr. Brendan Conlon and Sr. Janet Marie Peterworth, who established Christian Help of Mingo County."
Students vie for the rewarding opportunity to travel with faculty and parent volunteers to deliver the toys to Christian Help. While in Kermit, the students tour the region and gain a better understanding of the hardships faced by many families living in the area. Annie Nall, SHA student and CAC Vice-president says, "The Appalachian Gift drive is important to me because it helps us, as SHA students better gain a perspective and appreciation for our own privileges and then use our resources to help those who don't have those same opportunities as we do."