BY BRYCE PHILLIPS, Elizabethton Star
To learn what kind of person Elizabethton High School freshman Kaylee Hollifield is, one only needs to look at her years of community service.
In February, Hollifield was awarded the Tennessee Governor’s Volunteer Stars Award, an award that is giving to volunteers from each of the state’s 95 counties.
Hollifield received the award in Franklin, Tenn., on February 10 during the 2018 Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards ceremony. Hollifield was presented the award by Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson.
“It is such a great honor,” said Hollifield.
Hollifield’s journey of community service began when she was just 9 years old. Hollifield saw a need to feed the homeless of East Tennessee on Thanksgiving, prompting her to start a turkey drive.
Hollifield sold her own toys and clothes to save up money to purchase turkeys. After Hollifield’s story was picked up by a local TV station, viewers responded by donating turkeys to Good Samaritan Ministries and through Hollifield’s efforts and story, many individuals had a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.
“It really touched my heart,” said Hollifield. “I realized that some people aren’t as blessed as others to have a turkey on their table for Thanksgiving. It really showed me that helping not only helps others and changes them, but it really changes yourself and pulls out the best version of you.”
Hollifield has accumulated 4,000 volunteer hours and has distributed over 7,000 items to various organizations and ministries. Some of the organizations and ministries Hollifield has volunteered with includes Salvation Army, Good Samaritan Ministries, Haven of Mercy, Serving with Style, Gloves for Love Project for the world-famous Santa Train, Operation Christmas Child, Powerhouse Church, Meals for the Ronald McDonald House, Jurnee’s Journey, Smoky Mountain Children’s Home in Sevierville, Seasons of Hope, The Tim Tebow Corporation and Children’s Miracle Network.
Out of those organizations, Haven of Mercy in Johnson City holds a special place in her heart. Hollifield has become good friends with Haven of Mercy pastor and CEO, Grant Rockley.
“She has been an incredible asset to our ministry here,” said Rockley. “She doesn’t quit. Every time I think she is off somewhere doing something else, she is back again. She donates and helps raise funds for us. It is very rare, the type of person she is. I wish adults took more notice of that sort of thing.”
Rockley, whose ministries helps the local homeless, said it is important for young people like Kaylee to get involved and help.
“It is a reality check for them,” said Rockley. “Many young people don’t have any idea what it’s like to see someone who is destroyed by addiction or has had everything taken from them or have suffered abuse.
“When we have someone like Kaylee come through and get exposed to those things and still wants to help, it is pretty tremendous,” said Rockley.
Here recently, the Haven of Mercy Thrift Store, which served as a large part of the ministries’ income, was destroyed in a fire. Hollifield, through her Kaylee’s Helping Hands Facebook and Instagram Page, has started a drive to help Haven of Mercy. On her Facebook page, Hollifield said she is accepting donations of clothing, food, furniture and money for the cause.
Hollifield is a member of First Baptist Church in Elizabethton and is the daughter of Chris and Monica Hollifield.