MLK day distribution aids over 500 families

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2024

LANETT — There was a good turnout for Saturday’s fourth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday distribution hosted by Valley Community Outreach (a.k.a. The Village) and the Tree of Life inside the James A. Hardy Gym. Event sponsors Walmart and Amazon contributed an estimated $18,000 in new merchandise for the free distribution.

The items included all kinds of household goods, apparel, shoes, bedding, children’s toys, and even Valentine’s Day gifts. Coach Marshon Harper and members of the defending state champ Valley High Runnin’ Rams basketball team were there to assist with the distribution. Many people were walking around inside the gym wearing the “Happy New Year 2024!” hats that were being given away.

“We want to wish everyone a Happy New Year,” said The Village spokesperson Bridgette Wilson. “First and foremost, we want to thank God for his provisions. We want to thank all organizations who generously contributed their resources and their time. We appreciate everyone who is part of spreading love to families facing challenges.”

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The Village and the Tree of Life joined forces to aid more than 500 local families during their annual Christmas giveaway in December.

“We should spread love not just in the holiday season but throughout the year,” Wilson said. “There are many others in our beloved Valley who are making positive impacts in the community. Witnessing the happiness of children always warms our hearts.”

The Village is made up of individuals who grew up in the Greater Valley Area, moved away for job opportunities but still love the area they have always called home and want to give back to a community that will always be special to them.

Members of The Village love to spend time with their former classmates and to reminisce about the fun times they used to have while growing up in the Valley. Clint Gilder and Sherrill Roberts are two such people. They both grew up in the Fairfax  community, were active in scouting and graduated from Valley High in the late 1980s. “We had some great times back then,” Gilder said. “Me and Sherrill were in Cub Scouts together. Sherrill’s dad, Dewey Roberts Jr., was our Cubmaster for Pack 66. There were some good men in the community who were active in scouting back then. They had a great influence on us. We went from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. L.Z. Johnson Jr. was the Scoutmaster of Troop 60, and he did a great job. Those men who were active in scouting left a legacy, and we are glad they did.”

Gilder and Roberts had outstanding careers in the U.S. Army. Gilder is a retired lieutenant colonel, and Roberts graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. That speaks for itself.

The Village is planning a very active year in 2024. They will be having another distribution in February during Black History Month. A date and location has yet to be determined. They are also planning a spring clean up, a health fair, voter registration drive and youth seminar to be held in the local area. They are also planning a distribution at the regional veterans home.

“We plan to stay active in the Greater Valley Area, the place we all love,” Gilder said.