TCAT students pack record number of Christmas food boxes for Hawkins' needy

Jeff Bobo • Dec 4, 2019 at 11:30 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Students from the Phipps Bend TCAT visit Rogersville every year to pack the Of One Accord ministry’s Christmas food boxes for the needy, but this year’s group broke an all-time record for efficiency.

Of One Accord Director Sheldon Livesay told the Times News Tuesday that visiting students packed 1,000 boxes in only two hours and 30 minutes.

With the assistance of food drives and contributions, the ministry will provide a total of 1,300 Christmas food boxes to Hawkins County families which have been preregistered and meet the economic guidelines to be eligible.

Each box contains canned items such as green beans, corn and sweet potatoes, as well as boxed dishes including stuffing, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. There’s also a dessert in each box, along with Christmas treats.

On Thursday, Dec. 19, Of One Accord will be distributing those Christmas food boxes to eligible families, along with fresh rolls and their choice of a ham or a turkey, which will be purchased with funds contributed to the ministry.

Between now and then, other volunteers will pack the remaining 300 boxes, but as of Tuesday the ministry was hoping some additional food arrives so those boxes can be completed.

Every year the ministry takes a leap of faith that the Lord will provide enough resources to meet the community’s needs for Christmas. And every year the Lord does provide, although it occasionally comes down to the wire. 

But what had Livesay excited Tuesday was the effort by the 35 TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology) students from the Phipps Bend campus who volunteered to pack boxes at the Shepherd Center in Rogersville.

The group was a mix of full-time TCAT students and a group of dual enrollment students from the county’s high schools who spend two hours each day at the TCAT to earn college credits before they graduate.

“Today we made 1,000 boxes even, and that was amazing,” Livesay said. “That was the most they’ve ever made in one day. They’ve come down every year for as long as I can remember, but they really did a great job today.”

Of One Accord has been serving underprivileged families in Hawkins County for more than 30 years, and the ministry’s Christmas programs are a big part of that.

Another 1,300 children will benefit from the ministry’s Christmas for the Children program where each child receives presents during a party presented either by the ministry or a sponsor.

There are 30 children’s parties scheduled beginning Wednesday and continuing until the week of Christmas.

“We believe there are families in the county who would not have a good Christmas, and would not have a good Christmas meal, if it weren’t for some good neighbors helping,” Livesay said. “Many of the food drives that have taken place over the last month will go into these boxes where neighbors are helping neighbors. The goal is for every family in the county to have a good, traditional Christmas meal together as a family.”

Livesay added, “We so appreciate all of the food drives and all of the donations that have come in. That’s what makes this possible. We’re just here putting together the resources that have been given to us by the community, so we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has participated by donating food items to their school or church that have come to us, or have donated money so we could go out and buy the extra things that didn’t come in through food drives.”