Many families living in Ashe, Avery and Watauga Counties of North Carolina are living in poverty. Their parents struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, there often is very little or no money left over to purchase gifts at Christmas. Eagle Rock Ministries, through our High Country Toy Run, gives gifts to children at Christmas in hopes of providing for some of their needs and showing them the love of Christ. This is where we are seeking grants and donations from businesses and individuals to help meet the needs of less fortunate families of the High Country.
The High Country Toy Run was started in 2005, by a husband and wife in Boone, NC who wanted to make a difference in the lives of the poorer children of Watauga and the surrounding counties. In 2008, we incorporated under the name Eagle Rock Ministries, which is an overarching organization covering the High Country Toy Run and several other programs. These programs include an outreach to those in the Watauga County jail, ministering to the Boone Police Department, and reaching out to the motorcycle community locally and in the region. In October 2011, we filed for non-profit status under IRS section 501 (c)(3).
Each year the number of children that have been helped by the Toy Run has grown steadily, from 54 in 2005 to 757 children in 2011. There are many more children who qualify for help but funds have not been sufficient to provide for all of them. The children who receive gifts from the High Country Toy Run are referred to us by school councilors, local jails, churches, county agencies such as; the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services through the Children’s Development Services Agency of the Blue Ridge, and the Appalachian Health System. We accept children from birth to age 18.
An information sheet is filled out for each child as to age, gender, sizes, needs and wants. Using this information, we purchase as much as our funds allow. We purchase the items on sale when possible and many businesses give us a discount. For example we were able to buy $5,000 worth of winter coats for $1,250. The items are wrapped and placed in a bag labeled for that child and the bags are distributed to the parents by the agency that referred the child. Our goal is to give each child a winter coat or jacket, a sweater and a pair of long pants, one shirt, hat, gloves, and shoes. We also try to honor special requests such as “anything Barbie” or “anything GI Joe action figure”. We are blessed with wonderful volunteers who will shop for each child individually and many who will help wrap the gifts. Eagle Rock Ministries and the High Country Toy Run operate with an all-volunteer staff.
Because of our work with children at Christmas over the past seven years, Eagle Rock Ministries was asked in 2010 by the USMC Toys for Tots organization to be their representative in the High Country. Through this partnership, we receive toys and funds to buy toys from the national Toys for Tots organization. This allows to use a large portion of the funds that we raise through our Toy Run to purchase gifts of clothing and other needed items.
While our aim is to help the less fortunate children in the local area, we know that our High County Toy Run also helps their parents. Everyone understands the heartbreak and despair that a parent feels when he is not able to buy gifts for his child at Christmas. The High Country Toy Run lets the parents know that others in their community are aware of their struggle and want to help. Please join us in making Christmas time a joyous one for families in the High Country.