Taking care of your neighbor

Published 3:09 pm Friday, November 17, 2017

The Middlesboro community has certainly managed to step up within the past week and prove that residents care for one another, all through the overwhelming support of one man’s vision to help those in need.

“I really didn’t know what to expect, or if anyone would even be interested, but I see now that there truly are a lot of caring individuals throughout the area. I’m astonished by the amount of support the cause has gotten,” said John Day, the person behind the newly founded Community Outreach Program.

The program began with a simple Facebook post by Day, in which he shared his distress for the homeless epidemic in the area, and soon escalated into weekly sessions during which warmhearted residents came together to work toward a common goal: to feed and provide resources to the less fortunate.

Email newsletter signup

After discussing which programs are offered and which are still needed, the group decided it was time to stop talking and start taking action. This past Wednesday marked a rather successful beginning to their goal, as they set up stations in various areas to supply a warm meal to anyone wishing to partake, no questions asked.

Upon announcing their plan to begin these weekly feedings, Day and his group have been overcome by the immense amount of individuals and businesses reaching out to help, including: Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Sonic, the Coca-Cola factory, PJ’s Crater Coffee, Mars Properties, the Middlesboro Board of Education and students of both Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and Yellow Creek School Center.

Along with a warm dinner, those in need were also provided with a large selection of coats, hats and blankets, as many have nothing else available to keep warm in the cold months ahead. One group from Locus Church, going by the name Nimble Fingers, even provided up to 100 handmade hats.

Nimble Fingers originally began with a mission to provide these homemade hats to cancer patients who have recently experienced hair loss due to radiation, but were more than happy to donate those left over to the cause.

“Today was a great day. Our community showed that, in spite of the consensus of the majority of the rest of the world, we truly care about our neighbors. Through all the help we were able to feed so many folks. It was a tremendous success,” said Steven Temple, who quickly volunteered to help upon learning of the program.

The group plans to continue these weekly feedings for weeks to come, and also hopes to arm as many people as possible with the appropriate resources needed to get them out of their current position and on a better path.

According to Day, the next step is to take these people out of the cold streets and into a nice, warm environment where they can enjoy their meal with dignity. The group is asking for organizations, especially churches, to open their doors and allow pop-up soup kitchens to enter their fellowship once a week.

“The team will fund it; we just need local churches to step up and open their doors. St. Mary’s has already jumped on board, now we’re just waiting for more to follow in their footsteps,” said Day.

The formation of the program has even managed to begin something of a ripple effect throughout the area. In fact, one woman, Tammy Miracle, is currently in the process of putting together a free Thanksgiving dinner for anyone lacking a warm meal during the upcoming holiday. The dinner will take place at Angelo’s In The Gap, in Cumberland Gap, and donations are encouraged.

Anyone wishing to help be a part of this warm-hearted revolution should feel free to contact Day through his Facebook page, or drop off donations at PJ’s Crater Coffee and Angelo’s In The Gap.

“I know it probably wasn’t the most organized ordeal, but we accomplished what we wanted to do. We fed people, got their bellies full and provided them with blankets and jackets,” said Day. “That’s all I can ask for, and I hope we continue to have this much success and support in the weeks to come.”