Santa helpers needed for seniors, kids

Sue Guinn Legg • Nov 29, 2013 at 2:59 PM

As holiday shopping swings into full bore, there are literally thousands of low-income seniors in the local area who will be alone at Christmas and at risk of missing out, and an even larger number of children whose families struggle to provide the bare necessities and are facing Christmas with very little to give.

Home Instead Senior Care’s Be a Santa for a Senior project is looking for shoppers to help about 1,000 of those seniors in Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol, Jonesborough, Erwin, Elizabethton and Greeneville, And in Jonesborough, police officers and firefighters are seeking donations of new toys and financial contributions to provide a richer Christmas for about 50 children whose needs have been identified by Jonesborough area schools.

The seniors’ first names, essential needs and Christmas wishes can be found on purple paper ornaments decorating Be a Santa for a Senior trees and wreaths located in the customer service departments of all area Belk stores and in the lobbies of the Johnson City Medical Center and Franklin Woods Community Hospital.

The seniors’ needs have been identified by nonprofit senior service agencies across the Tri-Cities and their wishes are modest, most often for a small comfort item or warm article of clothing. Those who wish to help may choose a senior’s ornament at any of the tree and wreath locations through Dec. 6 and return their gifts to the store or hospital where they were selected by Dec. 9.

A community gift-wrapping party for the seniors will be held from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 12 at Faith Free Will Baptist Church, 824 N. State of Franklin Road, and Home Instead volunteers will deliver the gifts to the seniors’ homes the following week.

For those who wish to make a financial donation to the project, checks made payable to Home Instead Senior Care and earmarked for “Be a Santa for a Senior” may be made by mail to Home Instead Senior Care, 3314 Wayfield Drive, Johnson City, TN 37601. More information about the project may be obtained by calling Community Service Representative Tracy Kendall at 483-3453 or going online to www.beasantatoasenior.com.

For the fifth-annual Christmas shopping season, Jonesborough’s Shop with a Cop or Firefighter program has set out to help underprivileged children in the Jonesborough area between the ages of 5 and 12.

In addition to providing a happier holiday for the children, the program allows them to interact with law enforcement officers and firefighters in a very positive way — a pizza party and an evening of Christmas shopping with a law enforcement or firefighter partner.

The police officers and firefighters provide each child with a Walmart gift card to spend on themselves and their family members and also buy and wrap gifts that are discretely passed along to the children’s parents to place under the Christmas tree from Santa, including gifts for any siblings who are outside the project’s age range.

Their goal this year is raise to $8,500 to cover the cost of the special shopping trip and to collect new toys to supplement the project that may be dropped off anytime at the Jonesborough police department or at the St. Nick Nights held in downtown Jonesborough on Dec. 7 and Dec. 14.

Their Shop with a Cop or Firefighter night is Dec. 18 at the Walmart on West Market Street and would not be possible without help from officers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

“There’s no way we could handle all those kids without them,” Jonesborough Maj. Natalie Hilton said.

Others who wish to help may send donations to Jonesborough Public Safety c/o Shop with a Jonesborough Cop, 123 Boone St., Jonesborough, TN 37659. Checks may be made payable to the town of Jonesborough and earmarked for “Shop with a Cop.” All donations will be greatly appreciated, and tax-deductible receipts will be provided.

More information about the project may be obtained by calling 753-1053.


After Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes Giving Tuesday, a movement powered by social media to add a little more charity to the gift-giving season and the new year that follows it.

In 2012, Giving Tuesday raised $10 million nationally in charitable donations, and next week Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee joins the Giving Tuesday movement to add to that total this year with a Double Your Donation call-athon.

It’s a match-gift opportunity for community members to double the impact of their gift for at-risk kids across the region made possible by The Knoxville News Sentinel and other East Tennessee businesses that are providing matching donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters on Tuesday and throughout December.

“This is an important investment for our East Tennessee communities,” said Doug Kose, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. “The funds raised through this campaign will help us provide positive role models to more children, helping them to perform better in school.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters has been making a positive impact in the lives of children and their families since 1970 by providing children who are facing adversity a volunteer Big Brother or Big Sister to help them achieve academic success, reach for higher goals and avoid risky behaviors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters served 950 East Tennessee children in 2013 at an average annual cost of $1,000 per child. Its Double My Donation Campaign goal is $60,000. For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee, visit www.TennesseeBig.org or call 247-3240 or 865-523-2179.

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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