Christmas Box distribution sets record

Sue Guinn Legg • Jan 11, 2014 at 9:03 PM

The Johnson City Press Christmas Box’s 2013 distribution of holiday food to local families and seniors in need brought the 33-year-old project to a record high.

Art Powers, chairman of the project’s volunteer board of directors, reported last week that a final tally of the Dec. 18-19 food distribution shows 82,000 pounds of food was given out.

The number is made up of just more than 1,200 food boxes for families with children served by the Salvation Army Angel Tree gift distribution.

Powers said each of this year’s food boxes weighed a record 66 pounds, and included a 12- to 15-pound turkey, a three-pound ham, 10 pounds of potatoes, three pounds of onions and 46 canned and boxed food items.

The total also included 725 larger hams provided for the Hales Ministries and Care and Share holiday food distributions to low-income families in Johnson and Unicoi counties.

Total cost of the food, including 700 $35 food shopping gift certificates purchased for small households of one or two people, came in at $73,410, below the $75,000 cost budgeted for the 2013 distribution.

The cost compares to $69,818 for 2012 and brings the retail value of food distributed by the Christmas Box since 1998 to more than $1.25 million.

Powers said the 2013 numbers were impressive and credited the project’s many supporters and for the project’s success.

“It was clearly an outstanding year. We had a lot of volunteers who helped us and I thank them for all they have done,” he said.

Johnson City Press Publisher Justin Wilcox expressed gratitude for the community’s continuing support of the newspaper’s annual food outreach.

“It was a fantastic effort. I appreciate all the help that made this possible. We’re happy to have been able to assist so many families,” Wilcox said.

Powers expressed special gratitude to Wilcox for his endorsement and support for the project; Tom Krieger for his coordination of food procurement for the Christmas Box, Ron Tipton, Press operations manager, for leading the food box assembly; and Martha Laws for heading up a very successful campaign for financial support for the project in Carter County.

Tipton and Powers also thanked the numerous community organizations and businesses whose in-kind gifts of materials, equipment and labor make the Christmas Box possible, including the Salvation Army, Appalachian Fair, Washington County Detention Center community service work crews, International Paper Co. of Elizabethton, Road Runner Markets, East Tennessee Rent-All and Food City.

The project leaders also expressed their gratitude for the donations and special pricing extended to the Christmas Box by Second Harvest Food Bank, Walmart of Elizabethton, B&B Produce, Food City and Stanley Dunbar of Moody Dunbar Inc.

Powers also expressed his appreciation for the hundreds of financial supporters who donate to the project and said individual letters of thanks for their contributions will be mailed soon.

While community donations made to the project in 2013 did not meet the entire cost of the food distributed, reserve funding held by the nonprofit Christmas Box organization was available to meet the cost and will give the project a healthy start again this year.

For those who wish to help ensure the project’s continued success, tax-deductible donations may be made to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box of Northeast Tennessee by mail to P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605. One hundred percent of all donations are used for the purchase of food.

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