Center of Hope facility continues aim to break cycle of poverty

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By Caroline Russell
For Blount Today

The Center of Hope Ministries move in spring of 2005 gave the organization a new, bigger and more effective distribution and ministry center. The non-profit Christian organization has fed and clothed the most impoverished East Tennesseans and
West Virginians since it began in August of 1999.

The Center of Hope Ministries moved to 971 Hillside Drive in Louisville about 18 months ago. On Tuesdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the doors open and those who need help can receive clothing from local donations, food from the in-house food pantry and prayers and counseling from volunteers. With a vision to bring people from a cycle of poverty to a cycle of prosperity, The Center of Hope Ministries is not only a donation center, but also an educational resource, teaching
finance, budgeting and ministry to those who are undereducated, says Center of Hope Ministries director Lisa Elliot.

Elliot says she always knew she had a calling to help and minister to those in need. At the age of 18 she filled the back of her car with food and toys and headed into the mountains of Campbell County. Her dream to help turned into a reality when she established The Center of Hope Ministries years later, she says.

"Our goal is to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of the people," Elliot says.

The Center of Hope Ministries also offers educational resources to the local Hispanic community. Angelia Blalock teaches English to Spanish classes and vice-versa for those community members that need help with the language barrier so they can work and provide for their families.

Although their main location is in Blount County, The Center of Hope Ministries also has food pantries in Georgia, Alabama and Ohio. They also supply an orphanage in the Dominican Republic and a village in Belize with necessities such as food, mattresses, clothing and supplies, Elliot says.

In addition to their weekly food and clothing distributions, the center also has several annual events that help minister to and provide to those needy local families.

More than 500 backpacks filled with school supplies were given out to needy children going back to school. Each year at Thanksgiving, a candlelight feast is prepared at the center feeding hundreds of hungry families. Also, numerous baskets are prepared full of Thanksgiving specialties that the families can take home and enjoy.

Christmas time brings the most anticipated event that The Center of Hope provides. On Dec. 16, the annual bike give away will be held. The goal is to give over 1,000 bikes away to children whom have never owned a bicycle.

"To see the smile on the face of a child is priceless as their dreams of a shiny, new bike comes true," Elliot says.

The Center of Hope also sends three semi-trucks filled with toys, clothing and food to Campbell County to help the most impoverished families. Last year, the center helped more than 4,000 children at Christmas time.

To meet the criteria to receive from The Center of Hope, individuals must have very low or no income and cannot receive assistance from any other organizations.

"We want to empower people with how to live, to teach success, not survival. If you are hungry, lost or hurting, this is the place to be," Elliot says.

The Center of Hope Ministries feeds more than 100,000 local citizens per year. With this many families in need, donations and support are always welcome, Elliot says.

For information about The Center of Hope Ministries call 865-984-1113 or visit www.4-hope.org.

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