Bluefield Daily Telegraph
As children entered the gymnasium of the Maple View Church of Christ Saturday morning, they took off running in the direction of the tables filled with gifts. Their parents walked behind, but everyone — all who gave and all who received — appeared to smile from ear to ear.
“Thank you for allowing us to be part of this,” Tom Helton said as he walked past David Mitchell. “The thing I like to see is when their eyes light up.”
David and his wife, Kim Mitchell, established the Walk the Walk Foundation in 2003 to show Kim’s parents that she and her family had learned the importance of giving back to the community. On the first year, they worked with Kim’s aunt, Evelyn Linkous, to find children in the Lashmeet-Matoaka area who could benefit from receiving some gifts for Christmas. The gifts the Mitchell family gave to others that year represented the gift that David, Kim and their family gave to Kim’s parents.
The Walk the Walk Foundation is now in its 10th year of providing something for Christmas to children in Mercer County, but in 2009, the foundation expanded its mission to include children in Maryland. In 2011, the foundation was serving 300 children in West Virginia and Maryland, but this year, the number has grown to serve 508 children in six locations.
“We had more people ready to donate this year than we had kids for a while, but we found more kids with a need,” David Mitchell said. “The people participating receive the child’s age, sizes and gender, then they go out and shop for them.”
For the past several years, the foundation has partnered with the Maple View Church of Christ where the congregation and other volunteers have embraced the concept and have added additional components. For example, the church family provides groceries for each family, a Christmas store, where guests are welcome to pick up Christmas decorations and even a free flea market, where families can feel free to receive gently used items free of charge.
“We have used how we partnered with this church to partner with other churches in Maryland,” David Mitchell said. Kim Mitchell did not make the trip to West Virginia this year, but instead, participated in a similar distribution at the school she attended in Gainesville, Va.
Several children from Maryland including brothers, Evan, 9, and Alex, 12, Petrocelli, Kelli Kazmarek, 13, as well as sisters, Mary, 13, and Kayleigh, 18, Mitchell traveled from Maryland to serve.
“The mountains here are huge!” Evan Petrocelli said.
“Mary talked me into traveling to West Virginia with her this year,” Kelli Kazmarek said. “She said she would be bored on the ride if I didn’t come with her.”
The volunteers appeared to be anything but bored as they watched the eyes of children light up and helped families carry Christmas to their cars.
— Contact Bill Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org