Annual holiday food sign-up begins at Good Samaritan Ministries

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 11, 2013 at 9:14 AM

With its food resources at the lowest level in recent memory and faith that the community will step up to help meet the need, Good Samaritan Ministries has opened its registration of up to 2,000 low-income households in need of help with food for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Through Oct. 23, area families, seniors and individuals in need of food assistance for the holidays may submit applications at the Good Samaritan building at 100 N. Roan St., Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Good Samaritan Executive Director Sarah Wells said the ministry has already approved more than 500 applications for assistance and has been shocked by the large number of requests it has received without any public promotion of the holiday food distributions.

“I don’t know if people are afraid because their food stamps are being cut or if it’s young mothers who are in fear they will lose their (federal food assistance for Women, Infants and Children). But we were shocked by how many have already come in.”

At the same time, Wells said Good Samaritan’s food pantry supply has dwindled to a critical level. Its food account is without funding and it owes Second Harvest Food Bank $3,000 for 1,500 cases of food that have already been distributed.

“We are still getting our (700 Club) Operation Blessing food. They have been trying to send us all they can. I don’t know what we would do without them,” Wells said.

For the two holiday food distributions, which are estimated to come at a cost of $70,000 each, the ministry recently received a pledge of $3,000 from Westminster Presbyterian Church, which will come in addition to the 75 family food boxes donated annually by the church.

Appeal letters to area churches that traditionally collect individual food items for Good Samaritan’s holiday food boxes have been mailed. And two fundraisers designated specifically for the holiday food distributions are under way.

Through Sunday, Dunkin’ Donut shops in Johnson City, Milligan, Kingsport and Gate City, Va., will be collecting donations for Good Samaritan through their “Community Cups” campaign. For every $1 paper cup purchased at the shops, 50 cents will be donated to Good Samaritan and 50 cents to the Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation that supports community hunger, safety and children’s health initiatives across the Southeast.

Through Oct. 31, Good Samaritan will be in the running for cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 to be awarded through the Prepaid Visa RushCard Company’s online Rise to Thrive Charity Challenge. To help, visitors to the crowdrise.com/RiseToThrive website may click on “Donate to a Fundraiser,” select the “GSM Operation Holiday Cheer” team and enter the amount of the donation they wish to make through their Visa, Master Card or American Express account. The challenge has already earned the ministry a $1,000 Rise to Thrive bonus and all donations will help increase that amount.

For others who wish to help, a $35 donation to Good Samaritan earmarked for “holiday food” will provide a large food box with a turkey or ham for a family or a prepared holiday meal for a homebound senior or disabled adult.

Donations may be made online at goodsamjc.com or by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, PO Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605-2441. Food donations may be dropped off at the ministry building, 100 N. Roan St., on Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

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