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Over 50 residents of Beattyville, Ky. benefitted from this year's "Christmas in Kentucky" program spearheaded by local teacher Laura Kuntz of St. Marys.
"It always amazes me how generous this community is, in spite of our own financial difficulties. I have done this for 16 years and it is still going strong," Kuntz said.
With what Kuntz called the "tremendous" support of the St. Marys area, "wish list" items were purchased for six families, with 50 additional individuals receiving Christmas gifts due to the kindness of local residents.
A portion of those receiving gifts included those living in Beatyville Manor, a local nursing facility.
According to Kuntz, the area served by Christmas in Kentucky is among the top 10 poorest counties in the U.S.
During the weekend of Dec. 2-4, Kuntz made the 10-hour drive to Beatyville in a Suburban supplied by Joe Muccio. The vehicle was filled with toys, clothing, decorations, bags and household items.
Assisting Kuntz over the past several years have been Diana Spurlock, director of Daniel Boone Transit for Lee County, Ky., along with Lisa Moore, Red Cross coordinator and assistant for the homeless, who obtained wish lists from the families and helped set up the Christmas store.
Kuntz explained that each family is called in individually to come to the store and pick up their gifts. They also have the opportunity to choose from other items displayed on nearby tables.