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Woman Brings Christmas, 'Love Bags' to Struggling W.V. Community, Year After Year

From hundreds of miles away, Terry Evans works tirelessly, year round, to ensure that children in the mountains of West Virginia don’t go to bed hungry. Sponsored by Grape-Nuts.

About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary's historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to club their own mountains.

For almost 25 years, Terry Evans has served as Santa.

The Middleburg Heights woman has collected items to send to the coal region of West Virginia, where she was born and raised. Since she left the area for Cleveland in 1956, the Appalachian coal mines have fallen on extremely hard times. And without Evans' help, the children there might otherwise not have had Christmas over the years.

 in Strongsville, OH, after a trip home to Seth, W.V., for a high school reunion. When she saw how many children, “just tucked away in the mountains there,” were in need, she began to collect things to send back: shoes, coats, blankets, clothing, gifts and snacks.

“I never dreamed that I would be doing it for this long,” Evans said. Christmas 2014 will mark 25 years.

“Even now, at Christmas time, I think, ‘I’m so tired, I’m not going to do it next year,’” Evans said. “But when the time comes, I have the opportunity and I don’t know if I could accept that of myself or not. When I do this program, on Christmas Eve, I know these kids are eating because we put some energy, effort and sacrifice to make it possible.”

If providing Christmas wasn’t enough, Evans and We Care also send weekly care packages, called “Love Bags,” with healthy food and snacks, to help 145 children, who might not have anything to eat between the end of the school day on Friday, and Monday morning, make it through the weekend.

“The kids are in bad shape there,” Evans said.

While she is busy helping others, Evans is working right now on finding help her organization. We Care is in desperate need of a vehicle and a place to call home. The organization, which has bounced from one donated building and space to the next over the years, is looking for a permanent space of at least 900 square feet to store donated items, and to prepare and ship donations to West Virginia. Evans is not picky – her only requirements are heat and electricity.

“Last year we had a really nice, new building donated, and it really seemed to cheer the hearts of the volunteers,” she said, “because we didn’t have to work in a cold building since we had heat and lights.”

As for the transportation, We Care could use an SUV for picking up donations, and a truck to drive deliveries down to West Virginia.

What will Evans do when We Care accomplishes these goals?

“Weep openly,” she said. “It would just be an answered prayer is what it would be.”

To reach Evans and We Care, call 440-826-0390, or send donations to 16365 Heather Lane, Middleburg Heights, OH 44130.

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