Nurse encourages community to help others find hope for the holidays
On most Sundays, you’ll find Mikelle Hallock, RN, Heptner Cancer Center oncology, in the First Baptist Church listening to sermons and interacting with the congregation. Mikelle’s involvement with her faith has helped her as a nurse, as well as a humanitarian.
One Christmas, Mikelle was involved in a ministry called Urban Youth Outreach in the Southside of Chicago. The outreach had collected donations of toys, clothes, and shoes for low income community members for the holidays. On a Saturday, the group set out the donations, cooked a wholesome meal, and invited those in need to take what they needed as well as pick out a toy for each of their children for Christmas.
Mikelle believes that God put her in the right place, at the right time, so she could see that Campbell County also had people in need. “I am all for helping other communities, but even more importantly I believe that we need to help what is right at our feet,” she says. “I heard this in a sermon recently, ‘To love is to serve.’ I knew that, with some help and guidance from God, I would be able to encourage others to help people in Gillette. Our community is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to help where help is needed.”
So, she organized Holiday Hope in 2012 with some good friends—Amber Shearer and Kristi Malli—and a lot of help from First Baptist Church and employees at Campbell County Health. Holiday Hope’s objective is to give people hope during the holidays; to provide some holiday cheer to those who otherwise might not experience it. Like the outreach in Chicago, Holiday Hope is specifically targeted toward the Gillette and Campbell County low-income population during the holidays. This year, the event takes place Saturday, December 13, from 10:30 am until the evening.
“We provide a free meal and allow the families and individuals who attend to shop for free. We have everything set up so that people can grab whatever they can use for the holiday season. No questions asked,” says Mikelle.
Since it was started two years ago, Mikelle believes that Holiday Hope has helped more than 400 community members. Every year the event grows with help from churches, teachers, counselors, and fliers distributed. “I simply couldn’t do this alone,” says Mikelle. “The first year, the majority of those who donated and volunteered were from this hospital—I am so proud of how this organization pulls together for the greater good of the community.” The First Baptist Church congregation is also instrumental in the success of the event.
This year, Holiday Hope is looking to collect:
- Blankets and bedding
- Clothes (lightly worn/new), winter coats
- Shoes and winter boots
- Hats, mittens, and scarves
- Toys and teenage gifts
- Toiletries: TP, toothpaste and brushes, deodorant, shampoo, pads/tampons, etc
- Nonperishable food items
- Also needed are volunteers for setting up, cooking, serving the food the day of the event, people to help with goods the day of the event, to help clean up, etc.
Items can be dropped off every Wednesday from 6-6:30 pm at First Baptist Church, 501 S Gillette, across the street from the Campbell County Court House. If Wednesdays are bad, Mikelle said items can be dropped off Monday through Thursday from 9:30 am-12:30 pm, as long as you call 307.680.7233 to make sure someone is at the Church.
In the two years Mikelle has organized Holiday Hope, she has seen first-hand how the donations help our community. But her favorite experience happened last year.
“A man came in looking lost just before we were going to close down. He told us that he and his wife just moved into a two-bedroom apartment with their five sons. They didn’t have anything. Seven volunteers started finding stuff for the family members. When it was all over and we handed him all of the bags of clothes, toys, and food he started to tear up and said, ‘Now I get to look my wife in the eye and tell her we get to have a Christmas after all.’”
That’s what the holidays are about. Hope.