Appalachian Christmas Event serves over 400 in a single day

HINTON, WV (WOAY) – Four years after the last time the Appalachian Christmas Event stopped in Hinton, volunteers are back at it, serving hundreds today alone.

Starting at 9 a.m., about 60 volunteers from various organizations get to work serving others.

“This is the 21st year that we’ve done that,” said ministry director for Men and Women of Action Jane Roberts. “That’s one of our most fun things to do, just sit around and talk to the people in the local community about whatever they want to talk about. We pray with them if they want prayer but if they don’t, that’s fine.”

Some volunteers are local, like pastor of Lifeline Church of God Mark Bayle, who says Hinton desperately needs the extra help.

“With the pandemic and the job losses and just being in southern West Virginia as a whole with the downturn of coal has just been a tough turn,” said Bayle. “Hinton is resilient and full of great people, but it’s been a little tough for us.”

Throughout the day, over 400 people walked through Lifeline Church to take home food, clothing and any other holiday essentials. In total, the supplies add up to about $500,000.

“They have the Christmas spirit and they share it with us,” said volunteer Thomas Matuszak “I think we get blessed more than they get blessed. We seem to get a lot of blessings ourselves, just by being God’s hands handing out the food today.”

As community members take advantage of a turkey for Thanksgiving, new clothes and a blanket to keep warm, volunteers hope they take something else away from the event, too.

“All this is about Jesus Christ and letting people know that He loves them and they’re not forgotten and that they are important to Him,” said Bayle.

If you’re interested in getting involved with future volunteer events, contact the Lifeline Church of God.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.