By partnering with Marathon Ministries, Church & Community Worker Rev. Koni Purscell, and other local churches, Holston View UMC was able to give away new items valued at $150,000 to 450 people, according to the Rev. Don Hanshew.
Marathon Ministry distributed clothing, shoes, blankets, winter coats, and children's books to individuals and families who registered. More than 65 volunteers from five churches participated, as well as 45 vendors.
In addition, the festival raised money for three causes.
Four-year-old Carter Gillenwater, a student at Holston View’s preschool, was recently diagnosed with autism. His parents have been trying to raise money to purchase a service dog, to help their son with communications and emotional challenges and to keep him safe. The festival raised $1,500 to help purchase the dog, Hanshew said.
Russ Pearson is the father of another four-year-old student attending the pre-school, as well as a baby girl born in July. Shortly before the baby was born, Pearson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and had to immediately begin treatment. The festival raised $1,000 for his medical expenses.
An additional $250 was raised for Ebola assistance in Liberia.
Hanshew sent the following statement:
“Our church strongly feels that faithful unity in the community is what will be the key to finding meaningful peace and hope for our world. When we draw together to help others, meet our neighbors, and have some fun we become a changed people, a more secure people and an optimistic people that is more powerful than the sum or our parts.
Our greatest resource in these majestic and proud mountains of Appalachia is the weathered, independent, and strong people that call them home. When more people can not only say, ‘I know my neighbor down the street,’ but can also say, ‘I love my neighbor down the street,’ indeed something spirit-filled happens. By no means are we a perfect church, and we gladly accept imperfect people just like us, but as a church we want to be a catalyst to taking the imperfect of our community and making something beautiful. We understand that this one festival will not change the world in one day, but to the family struggling under the crushing burden of debt for cancer treatment and the autistic child who will have a much needed helper dog and the hundreds of families that received free necessary items and gifts, a difference will be made, a seed will be planted, love will be shared.
Was it a perfect event? No! We learned a lot about what to do, and not to do next year. If a church or sponsor is interested in collaborating with us in the fall of 2015, please contact Holston View United Methodist Church at 276-386-3142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
"Festival is all about food, fun, and fellowship" (Kingsport Times-News, 10/19/14)