Group seeking to raise funds, awareness of heart defects

Sue Guinn Legg • Jan 23, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Congenital Heart Defect Week will be observed nationally Feb. 7 through Valentine’s Day and the local Mended Little Hearts family support group is planning special events in each of the Tri-Cities during that period.The events will help spread the word that help is available for the new parents of the 1 in 100 children who are born with heart defects and funding for research is woefully lacking.With governmental proclamations setting out the significance of the impact of heart defects and the need for the greater awareness raised during CHD Week, the cities of Johnson City, Kingsport and both Bristol, Tenn., and Bristol, Va., are all joining Mended Little Hearts in the effort.One in One Hundred balloon releases are planned in each of the cities. A Mended Little Hearts Penny Drive is under way and the group is recruiting retail outlets to take part in a paper heart sale that will run throughout February to help support CHD research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.Johnson City’s balloon launch will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 8 at Mountain View Baptist Church, located next to Winged Deer Park on the Bristol Highway. Refreshments will be served and Mountain States Health Alliance’s walk-through Mega Heart will be on site. Kingsport’s balloon launch will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 15 at Trinity Memorial Center located off John B. Dennis Highway at 1221 Stewball Circle. A joint Bristol balloon release will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at Common Ground Church, located across the street from Bristol Motor Speedway at 2844 U.S. Highway 11E.The message at each of the events will be that more children die from heart defects than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, that only a fraction of the funding is spent on CHD research and that help is available for families who are impacted.Mended Little Hearts members kicked off their penny drive for CHD research in November and will continue the drive through the end of February online at the Mended Little Hearts Facebook page. Donations may be made to any little Mended Little Hearts member or by mail to Mended Little Hearts, Rhodes Private Drive, Piney Flats, TN 37686.The local Mended Little Hearts Paper Heart Sale for CHD research at Vanderbilt will be held throughout February at Bear and Friends and Three Pirates and A Princess in Johnson City. Other businesses that wish to take part may do so by calling Agnes Rhodes at 676-8352 or emailing momsbluebug@aol.com. For local families with children with CHDs, the Mended Little Hearts Support Group meets at Common Ground Church on the third Tuesday every month. Membership is free. The meetings most often include a meal and child care is provided. “We’ll help them. We’ll walk along side them and we’ll give them support,” Rhodes said. “Sometimes what they need most is just someone to talk to who’s been through the same thing.”More information about the group can be obtained by contacting Rhodes, online at mendedlittlehearts.org and at the Mended Little Hearts Johnson City Facebook page.After a most-generous round of community support for Good Samaritan Ministries’ Christmas programs, the ministry sent word Wednesday that its pantry is being emptied at an alarming rate. Good Samaritan staff member Adam Hoover said January has brought the ministry an all-new challenge. “We have families coming in for food on a scale that we are not really used to seeing,” he said. “This need for winter food is becoming acute and we are going to need all the help we can get.“It’s our mission never to turn anyone away because of a lack of food or supplies. If the community pulls together as we know it can, we will never have to.”To meet the need, the ministry has put out a special request for donations of canned soups and pasta, dry cereal, peanut butter, dry pasta and sauce, boxed macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, instant mashed potatoes, dry beans and sliced bread.All food donations may be dropped off Monday through Saturday at the Good Samaritan building at 100 N. Roan St. For more information on how to help, call 928-1958. Monetary donations earmarked for food may be made online at goodsamjc.org or by mail to P.O. Box 2441 Johnson City, TN, 37605.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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