The Mission of Hope collects new toys, clothes, and canned food for rural families.
The Mission Of Hope Christmas Barrel Drive kicks off today, November 16th.
Donations help families in rural Appalachia.
More than 500 barrels are available to off donations of new clothes, new toys, new coats, and non-perishable food.
After the donations are collected, a team of volunteers sorts and packs it at a warehouse in West Knoxville.
About eight years ago, Henry McCarter started volunteering with the Mission Of Hope.
"After I went on the first Christmas delivery, and a little boy takes me by the hand and says 'I don't want a toy for myself but can I have some for my little brother then I sort of got hooked and have been coming back ever since," he said.
Since he retired, he goes to the warehouse a couple days a week. At Christmastime, he comes more often to help volunteers organize donations.
"It gives me a reason to get out of bed every morning, something to do, something to look forward to," he said.
Emmette Thompson said, "We're trying to pack as we go. We have to do 27 schools in a very narrow window of time but we have to turn what comes in here over and over again to get all the needs that we have."
Mission of Hope Executive Director Emmette Thompson saID the need grows every year.
This Christmas, Mission Of Hope will deliver toys, clothes, and food to more than 17,000 people in rural Appalachia.
"We feel like it's a privilege to do what we do at Mission of Hope. And we're a vessel of hope," he said. "Just trying to make a difference in the lives of people in areas that really have been ravaged with continuous decline in employment and opportunities there."
Donations at barrels will be accepted through December 3rd.
Henry McCarter said, "I would say something to the guys that if you don't feel like going out and buying a toy send us a check because we have people who can go out and buy that for you."
The Mission of Hope welcomes all the donations in barrels.
The organization fills in shortages by buying the needed items so gifts of money are also appreciated.