135 kids face Christmas without gifts

Tony Casey • Dec 23, 2013 at 7:56 PM

When someone asks local, needy children what they got for Christmas, they need to have an answer.

That’s the policy of Sarah Wells, executive director of Good Samaritan Ministries in Johnson City, who helps provide Christmas presents for those who wouldn’t get a gift otherwise. She wants these less fortunate children to know that someone in their own community loved them enough to get them something, no matter how small.

“We want to show them that they’re loved and not forgotten,” Wells said.

As well as donators and volunteers have done in regard to Christmas presents and efforts, Good Samaritan Ministries is specifically looking for extra help with gifts for children and teenagers this holiday.

It’s a seasonal problem, said Adam Hoover, who works in marketing for the group. He said that a lot of times people who donate presents find it easier to buy for younger children than for the older ones.

Thinking it might be more expensive or that the older children might be pickier is the assumption, Hoover says, but feels that’s not the case.

With Christmas just three shopping days away, time is running out, but Good Samaritan is looking for the extra push it often gets when it’s in a tight spot to help others out.

One hundred thirty-five children are currently set to go without gifts unless an influx of presents come in, said the group in a news release, 54 of which are teens. A post on its Facebook page called for urgency in the matter, and recommends the kinds of gifts that would suffice in bringing presents to those in need.

Gift cards to food chains, movie theaters and game stores, as well as hooded sweatshirts of all sizes, or sporting event passes would help immensely with teenage boys, the post said. For teenage girls, mild-colored makeup, move tickets, food chain gift cards, bowling and skating passes, retail store gift cards, or jewelry and purses would help with the need.

Wells, who said she’ll be spending the weekend shopping for the kids, had a woman run down to one restaurant Friday and pick up five $10 gift cards, which she said would go a long way for kids this Christmas.

“Our desire is to make sure that have some kind of Christmas,” Wells said.

Good Samaritan gets referrals from several different sources, and although it works to help the Johnson City and Washington County community, the need seems to be more apparent during the holidays. Wells said she gets calls from state representative’s offices, neighbors, social workers and physicians.

She takes the task personally, and feels the pain of the children who have less and who don’t get to experience the joy of the season. She told a story of a baby who was recently born to homeless parents. Wells endeavours to help out families with these types of valid needs, even after Christmas passes. Good Samaritan will help provide money for rent for the families to get on their feet, as well as furniture for their houses, and food to nourish their children.

A $35 sponsorship goes a long way, Wells said, with helping families. It will provide a food box containing 75 pounds of food, including a ham, as well as toiletries. Other ways to help would be to volunteer as a gift wrapper at Good Samaritan Ministries, 100 N. Roan St. in downtown Johnson City. Hoover said any time that could be volunteered would be a big help for the Christmas cause, whether only for an hour, or all day.

Wells said she appreciates the community for what they’ve done so far, but needs just a little bit more to make up for the gap in presents.

There’s a place for donations to be made on the organization’s website, through Paypal, at www.goodsamjc.org.

For more information, call Wells at 676-6007.

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