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A church in Ballardsville made headlines across the nation recently after boxes of donated toys fell off a pickup truck.
A Good Samaritan found 12-15 boxes of toys Dec. 12 on Ky. 53 between Ballardsville and La Grange, and as police searched for clues about the intended recipient, newspapers and TV stations in several states took notice.
Officers contacted local media to spread word of the Good Samaritan’s find. La Grange Police Chief Kevin Collett said when officers opened the generically marked boxes and found toys, they felt sure the boxes were part of an angel tree or other charitable organization.
From Connecticut to Michigan, media outlets jumped at the chance to report news of toys found along a Kentucky highway with intros recommending that Santa tweak his GPS before Christmas Eve.
Ballardsville Baptist Church Pastor Tony Wolfenbarger chuckles as talks about the toys.
They’re just a small part of the church’s nearly 20-year history of mission work in Floyd County, a ministry ironically spawned by news reports in the1990s.
Wolfenbarger said members of the congregation heard WHAS radio host Terry Meiners and former host Wayne Perky along with former Courier-Journal columnist Byron Crawford speak of Mud Creek, a community in Floyd County, and a woman named Eula Hall working to change the health of her community.
Since hearing those first news reports of the poverty residents in Eastern Kentucky experience, the Ballardsville congregation built a dental clinic, food storage building and a lunch room.
And 10 years ago, Ballardsville members started helping Hall with her annual Christmas party to benefit 1,000 families.
Church members from Ballardsville and sister churches assemble fruit and candy baskets and set up a store of sorts for each family to “shop” for items they need and a toy for each child. It takes a semi-truck to deliver supplies for Hall’s Christmas party, plus 40-50 volunteers assembling fruit baskets and donations from hundreds of people.
Wolfenbarger said the toys found by a Good Samaritan along Ky. 53 fell from a pickup truck loaded to transfer donations down the road from the church to a Cherry House furniture warehouse where volunteers assembled baskets and loaded the semi-truck.
This weekend, church members caravanned to Floyd County with 15 pickup trucks filled with supplies for other benevolent ministries along the way.
Wolfenbarger said church members didn’t have much to say about news coverage of the toys on Sunday.
“Everybody kind of already knew,” he chuckled.
As for the driver of the pickup truck who dropped the toys, Wolfenbarger said he’s keeping the man’s name quiet – in public, that is.
“We think we know who it was and we gave him down the road,” Wolfenbarger said. “At first, he didn’t believe us.”
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