Project J.O.Y., started in 1998, is a regional mission started by the youth of the church, but now involves teens and adults of all ages. Recognizing a serious lack of resources in the coal-mining community of Harlan, Kentucky, PLPC has developed a multi-focal project that involves gathering and distributing food, household products, clothing and school supplies. School officials in Harlan help us coordinate to those with the greatest need. In October of each year, two large moving vans and many volunteers take those resources to Harlan where hundreds of people receive goods they choose in a store-like setting. The project requires volunteers to work throughout the year. This year, 2018, will be the 20th anniversary of our mission to the Appalachian area.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together….”
I Corinthians 12:26
Harlan is a small town northeast of Knoxville. In years past, this coal mining area thrived, and the county boasted a population of over 80,000. With the decline of the coal mining industry and the lack of other industry, Harlan residents have fallen on hard times. With the population now down to less than 32,000, almost 40% of the county’s children live in poverty. Life is a struggle for many. The first visit to Harlan in December of 1998 was a life-changing experience for our youth group. We felt well prepared for our visit armed with food boxes, winter coats, clothes and Christmas gift boxes for the children. We soon realized, however, how unprepared we were. On that cold December morning, we saw barefooted toddlers, parents with no heat at home begging for blankets for their children, and people asking for basic things that we take so for granted: toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes.
Such a tremendous need in a community only two hours away from Knoxville! God’s message was loud and clear – we have to go back to Harlan!
Since then, we have returned to the area with more youth, more adults, more food boxes, more coats and clothing, more toiletries, and more learning bags.
Contact us to see how you or your high schoolers, college students or adult mission committees can participate in this eye-opening effort.