How Can We Really Help the Poor?

So all week long I’ve been trying to figure out how to express my thoughts about the angst that the political rhetoric of this presidential election is causing in my spirit. I have written and rejected more than one blog post because I couldn’t remove the negative emotions from it. The overwhelming negativity, political lies and confused cheerleaders are all strong magnets; I have to continually pray them out of my brain. Politicians would have you believe that their Robin Hood methods of providing more for the poor would actually help people, however it causes me to ask, how can we really help someone in need?

After lost sleep and many deleted words, I have chosen to simply write an appeal for an organization that I personally know is helping poor people, and whose vision and mission are aligned with what they actually do.

I prefer to hand my hard-earned resources over to someone I know will actually use the money or goods as they say they will. So there is no mistake, this post is not to ‘should’ on anyone or try to guilt anyone into giving anything – my intent is to reveal the needs of a small mission in the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky.

Jim and Rita Cmolik operate Hills and Hollers Ministries and their non-profit mission is about relationship “between our God, our neighbor and ourselves.” They are building those relationships with the people of Appalachia in McCreary County.

This is not a ministry that is about simply giving free stuff to poor people. Yet part of having a relationship with someone is helping them with tangible needs when they need it. The primary way they do that is through their Community Closets that provide clothing and household goods. Much of what they give away is second-hand clothing and they also provide new items when possible – especially after a fire has taken everything a family owns. And unfortunately, there are many fires, largely due to wood stoves and space heaters used as a primary heating source.

How can we help? We can go through our closets and give away clothing and coats. I also went through the linen closet and found sheets and blankets not being used. Shopping the “After Christmas sales” for new kids clothes and men’s t-shirts ended up being less expensive to drop-ship to them directly than if I had gone shopping and filled another box. Then the “white sales” came along and crib sheets were down to $4 each, less than I could purchase the material and sew them myself. And of course financial donations allow them to purchase other material goods or building materials that are needed and that are the tangible side of building relationships.

One reason that you will rarely (if ever) see Jim and Rita actually asking for clothing donations is that they have found over the years that many people will send items so filthy or torn that they have to pay for them to be hauled to the dump, which ultimately takes away from the ministry financial resources, becoming a hindrance rather than a help. So if you do give, to them or any other ministry, make sure it’s something worth giving.

Just to be clear, no one involved with the Hills and Hollers Ministries has asked that I write any kind of an appeal for their mission. I am only writing about them because we trust them and we have been blessed by sharing in their ministry and wanted to share this information with anyone looking for a way to truly support the poor.

So, if you are looking for someone to actually help, and that kind of ‘giving to the poor’ appeals to you, here is information on their mission and answers to questions you may have. Check out the Facebook page link and the Hills and Hollers Ministries website.

Here is how to reach them:

Contact Us…

If you’re interested in learning more about our ministry in the “hills and hollers” you can email us at jim@hillsandhollers.org or contact us via “snail mail” at:

Hills and Hollers Ministries
2281 Lick Creek Road
Whitley City, KY 42653

Hills and Hollers Ministries is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt non-profit 501C (3) organization.  Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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About Shari Risoff

Shari Risoff is an author, editor and consultant based in Raleigh, NC, USA. She studied business and spent years building client relationships in the corporate world and is passionate about communicating. She is the author of two books, Released: A True Story of Escape from an Abusive Marriage and Accidental Sabbatical. She began to consult and write full time during her own accidental sabbatical. She writes, and edits books for other authors, as well as helping small business owners with infrastructure or communication or projects of many kinds. She is devoted to her husband Stephen. When she is not working on her new book, or hanging out with Stephen, she is reading books or studying human behavior. Readers or writers in need of an editor can get in touch via email: projectmavens @ risoff.com or follow her on Twitter @ShariRisoff.
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