Jessi Adams and Isabella Gormanson, both students in Child and Family Studies at Berea College, will be distributing toys with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 11 am to noon. They collected 500 toys for Christian Appalachian Project’s thrift store in honor of their friend BriAnna Cowden, age 22, who passed away in early November after being involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. The donations were dropped off to the thrift store on Giving Tuesday.
“These toys come at a much-needed time,” says Sherri Barnett, manager of the thrift store. “Their generosity will bless many children in Central Appalachia this Christmas. We are grateful that they chose to partner with Christian Appalachian Project to impact families during the holidays.”
Adams and Gormanson are members of the Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society for exceptional students of Child and Family Studies, where Cowden served as president last year. Cowden, who loved helping children, graduated from Berea College in May 2017 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies. During her time as a student, Cowden worked as a teaching assistant in the Child and Family Studies Department and at the college’s child development laboratory. Her friends chose a fitting tribute to her memory by providing joy to Appalachian children in need during the holiday season.
Ellen Burke, instructor of Child and Family Studies at Berea College, connected Adams and Gormanson to Christian Appalachian Project. Burkeserved as a volunteer with the organization in the early 1970s. She later became an employee of Christian Appalachian Project and at one time was the co-director of all human service programs assisting families in need in Appalachia. Burke was also instrumental in the advancement of the child and family development centers at Christian Appalachian Project and has connected many of her students to service opportunities with the organization over the years.