Samaritans thinking Thanksgiving

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 19, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Good Samaritan Ministries is working to provide Thanksgiving dinner to 1,000 area households in need.

According to Sarah Wells, the ministry’s executive director, Good Samaritan has registered 500 low-income families in the five-county region for Thanksgiving food assistance and also will provide the makings of a holiday meal to 200 area households with children whose parents who are incarcerated. It also will deliver prepared meals to 300 low-income seniors who are served by the ministry year-round.

With the high cost of groceries, the elimination of government funding previously available for emergency food and the decline in charitable giving that arrived with the Great Recession and has yet to bounce back, the ministry’s food budget is already strained and the challenge of meeting the local need for food for next month’s feast of thanks will be especially great.

“We’re worried,” Wells said. “We came up $800 short on our Summer Food program. We don’t have anything in our reserves and there is no money coming in. Right now, we’re just letting people know about the need ... praying and going on.”

Help with Good Samaritan’s Thanksgiving outreach has already been pledged by Calvary Church, which has adopted the ministry’s homebound seniors and will deliver holiday meals to their homes this year. Earth Fare has provided the ministry with vouchers through which shoppers can earn organic turkeys for Good Samaritan’s holiday food distribution. A local attorney and his wife have pledged a $9,000 gift to help purchase turkeys for the distribution. And there will be help from Second Harvest Food Bank, which is once again partnering with WCQR radio in an Operation Thanksgiving food drive that this year will attempt to provide 5,000 holiday food boxes to supplement holiday distributions conducted by pantries and emergency feeding programs throughout Northeast Tennessee.

For those who would like to help directly, Good Samaritan is seeking sponsorships of $35 to provide a large food box, a turkey, paper products and cleaning supplies for one family. Donations to the ministry earmarked for Thanksgiving food may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, P.O. Box 244, Johnson City, TN 37605.

Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest distribution of Christmas gifts for impoverished children conducted annually by the international relief ministry Samaritan’s Purse of nearby Boone, N.C., is under way and attempting to collect 15,000 gift-filled shoeboxes in the Tri-Cities region this year.

The local collection of shoeboxes packed with small toys, school supplies, toothbrushes, combs and other personal care items for children in underdeveloped, war-ravaged and disaster-struck counties, including many children who may have never before received a Christmas present, kicked off Oct. 9 and will continue through mid-November.

Samaritan’s Purse’s goal is to distribute gift boxes to more than nine million children this year and in so doing relay to the them “the message of hope and love delivered through Jesus Christ.”

Bristol Motor Speedway is serving as the region’s central drop-off location for shoeboxes this year and will accept the boxes Nov. 12-19.

For those who wish to help, packing instructions and more information about the project can be found online www.samaritanspurse.org/occ or may be obtained by calling Samaritan’s Purse at 800-528-1980.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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