Katherine Fortner, a member of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church, Knoxville, has volunteered at Western Heights Baptist Center for at least 35 years.
At the age of 91, Fortner still serves as ministry assistant to Western Heights director Shannon Washam.
“You can’t be around this place long without seeing a need,” she observed.
Two years ago, one of her grandsons who knew of her involvement at Western Heights asked how he could be involved and she suggested that some of the children needed shoes, so he donated some shoes that were distributed.
‘My mission field’
Last year, Fortner asked her family to not give her Christmas gifts. Instead, she encouraged them to donate coats for children in the community served by Western Heights.
Her family responded with 45 coats, Fortner said. She decided to do it again this Christmas and her family — mostly grandchildren who are scattered across five states, including Tennessee — provided 55 coats this year.
She was overjoyed with the results. “It meant we are reaching more children,” she said, adding that Western Heights is “my mission field.”
Western Heights Baptist Center director Shannon Washam noted that “in the true spirit of Christmas one remarkable Christian lady has found a unique way to spread joy and warmth to those in need.
“This act of kindness has not only impacted the lives of many children, it has also fostered a sense of unity and compassion within her family,” Washam noted.