Good Samaritan outreach to go through Dec. 24

Sue Guinn Legg • Dec 19, 2013 at 4:08 PM

If you’ve wondered why Christmas seems to have come so quickly this year, blame Thanksgiving.November’s later-than-usual fourth Thursday cut about a week out of the traditional holiday shopping season. While it remains to be seen how retailers will fare, less than three weeks out from Black Friday, food and gifts from the community’s charitable Christmas projects are already going out.While the annual distribution of food, toys and clothing from contributors to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box and Salvation Army Angel Tree will wrap up Friday, Good Samaritan Ministries’ Christmas outreach will continue through Christmas Eve for teens age 13 and up not included in the Angel Tree, children with parents who are incarcerated, home-bound seniors, disabled veterans, individuals who are homeless and otherwise in distress and served by the ministry year-round. Good Samaritan will provide Christmas food boxes with turkeys or hams to 1,500 low-income households that are not included in the Christmas Box beginning today.Clothing and toys from the ministry’s supporters to 412 children with parents who are jailed in Johnson City and in the state prison in Johnson County will be distributed at a Christmas party to be held Sunday.Prepared holiday meals for 298 seniors, disabled adults and veterans who cannot cook are lined up for delivery Christmas Eve.And clothes and gifts for the 740 teens also on the ministry’s shopping list will go out with the food boxes as they become available.The ministry is shopping now for several hundred of the teens, children, seniors and homeless families whose gifts are not yet wrapped up and is still in need of several key items in highest demand.Big toys like trikes, bikes, scooters and skateboards that ministry director Sarah Wells said “can make a Christmas for a child,” toys for girls small enough to stuff in a stocking and children’s and junior’s clothing of all sizes, particularly huskies and petites, are all in particularly short supply at Good Samaritan.Gifts for teens, including inexpensive jewelry; hair-, nail- and skin-care sets; cosmetic bags; or anything a teenage girl enjoys would also be most helpful.For older boys, Wells said an inexpensive fishing pole or sleeping bag “would be a delight,” especially for the boys among 17 children who are homeless and currently doubled up with their parents and siblings in local hotel rooms provided by Good Samaritan and its supporters.And for the seniors, the ministry is welcoming donations of soft blankets, hats, scarves, gloves, house shoes and other warm comfort items.Wells said two of the four homeless families who will be spending Christmas at area hotels are starting over with nothing and in need of basic kitchen and households items that also make nice gifts.In Good Samaritan’s December newsletter, Wells shared the story of just one of the four families, a single mother with five children who have been struggling with homelessness, living in a hotel and waiting on public housing for some time.“She thought things would be better by this time and unfortunately missed applying for gifts for her children. How do you turn this mother and her children away?” Wells wrote. “Because you have supported us throughout this year, we are here for this mother, her children and others like them.”The total estimated cost of Good Samaritan’s Christmas outreach is $68,000. For those who wish to help, a $35 sponsorship will provide food for the holiday for one household or gifts, clothing and toys for one child or teenager. Donated gift items may be brought to the ministry at 100 N. Roan St., Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.Volunteers are needed at the ministry throughout the holiday and are invited to call 928-1958 for information on how they can help.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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