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Mission of Hope delivers school supplies, smiles to Scott County

5:44 PM, Aug 16, 2012   |    comments
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  • A green folder, an orange backpack. Those seemingly simple supplies brought smiles to the faces of some Scott County students this week.

    "I think it's awesome," sixth-grader Rhiannon Harris said.

    She was among the more than 200 students at Winfield School to receive backpacks filled with school supplies on Wednesday.

    Volunteers from Gists Creek Baptist Church in Sevierville delivered them on behalf of Mission of Hope.

    "It just tears my heart out it feels so good," Pastor Tim Dixon said. "We came up here with the intention of being a blessing to them, but to just be here with them, to see their enthusiasm, how much they've enjoyed being with us or us being here  and how they've welcomed us and the school has welcomed us and the teachers have welcomed us, and these young folks have just opened up to us and welcomed us here, it's just an incredible, incredible feeling to be able to be a part of something like this."

    Winfield serves students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. More than half of them receive free or reduced lunch.

    "Yes, we need the supplies, but we also need for these children to realize how many wonderful people there are out there that are there to help them," Principal Sharon Stanley said. 

    And that is part of Mission of Hope's mission.

    The organization is helping more students than ever this year. Volunteers are delivering more than $100,000 worth of supplies to more than 10,500 students spread throughout 27 rural schools.

    "There's really merit in helping those that are in rural areas that don't have anybody there to help them, and that's what our mission is, and that's what Mission of Hope is all about," said Emmette Thompson, founder of Mission of Hope. "When you start the new school year, and you start on the same footing as every student, there's importance there that every kid realizes they're special and people believe in them and want them to do well and succeed."

    Each student got to pick his or her own backpack and then fill it with pencils, glue, folders, notebook paper, scissors, crayons and hygiene items.

    "Some people in our school don't have money to afford this, and I think it's really sweet, and I just think, it just tickles me whenever they come and give me stuff," said Madison Bearse, a sixth-grader at Winfield.

    Along with the school supplies, sixth-graders signed a pledge to graduate, the first step in the process of earning a Mission of Hope scholarship.

    "The kids are very appreciative, the parents are appreciative," Principal Stanley said. "It's not only that they bring a backpack and paper and pens to the children, they bring hope, warmth, compassion - you saw all the smiles going on - it's a wonderful time for the groups to get together. They're fabulous to us."

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