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A greater good

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Friendship Christian student William Robertson, left, holds a bag open as Sam Burruss puts a scoop of flour in Wednesday morning as students help with Possum Town Outreach. Rebecca Pettross, left, and Melissa Beltranena are seen behind. DALLUS WHITFIELD /

A group of Friendship Christian students are gearing up to give back this Christmas.

On Dec. 18-19 the students, accompanied by FCS teacher and coach Greg Armstrong, and Jerry McFarland of Possumtown Outreach, will journey - as they've traditionally done - to Sneedville, Tennessee, where they will distribute food and personal items to families in need.

Students Brooke Eakes, Kendal Kelsh, Rebecca Pettross, Melissa Beltranena, Morgan Vallett, Brice Dabbs, McClaine Remus, Chase Flicek, Willis Rekrap, Will Stallworth and Sam Burruss re-sacked bags of donated flour on Wednesday morning - which will be given to nearly 500 families.

"We have donated corn mill, pancake mix, flour," said McFarland. "We re-sack it to give to individual families. Last year on the Christmas trip we had 256 families."

Thanks to donated funds, McFarland also purchased butter and syrup to "round it all out."

In addition to food items, McFarland showed a tractor-trailer full of personal hygiene items, clothing, bedding and toys - which will be donated to Sneedville families.

Sneedville is located in Hancock County - the poorest county in Tennessee and the sixth poorest county in the United States. Due to their geographical location there is a low population and even lower job opportunities.

McFarland said there are families in Hancock County who sleep on the floor for lack of bedding and who do not have everyday luxuries that most folks take for granted - like running water.

Coach Armstrong is working to bring awareness to the water crisis through Run4Water - a grassroots organization started in Wilson County.

"The mission is to raise awareness and provide assistance," he explained. "We are currently working in Sneedville and going there once a month dealing with the water issue."

Armstrong, who has also done mission work outside of the United States, said it is important to show the students the difference they can make at home.

"From a Christian standpoint - Jesus tells us to go in all the world and share the gospel. I want our kids to know that begins right here in Lebanon. We don't even have to go to Sneedville - there is need right here," Armstrong said.

He added that most students are shocked to learn that just three hours away - in Hancock County - there are families without water.

"There is a great need in our country as well as worldwide," he said.

The group is still in the process of collecting food, toys and other items for the trip. To donate, contact McFarland at (615) 330-8474. Items will be accepted until the evening of Thursday, Dec. 17.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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Christmas, Friendship Christian School, giving back, Greg Armstrong, holidays, Jerry McFarland, Possumtown, Possumtown Outreach
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