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Early Christmas Box Campaign Down to Wire

Staff Report • Jul 24, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Our monthlong appeal for early contributions to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box to help close an $18,000 gap between donations received and the record high cost of last year’s holiday food distribution to nearly 2,000 local families and seniors in need will wrap up next week.The community is responding and on Tuesday $1,125 in early contributions had been received. But much more will be needed to make up last year’s shortfall and meet the cost of food that has continued to rise since last Christmas.To stave off a reduction in what has traditionally been one of the region’s most generous holiday food outreaches, in last Sunday’s newspaper we featured three elderly women living month to month on Social Security benefits and food stamps who told us their holiday extras simply would not be there if not for the $35 grocery shopping gift certificates they receive from the Christmas Box.On July 13, we revisited an elderly Carter County couple using their Social Security income to raise three of their great-grandchildren. The couple told us how well the project’s large family food box with a turkey, a ham, fresh potatoes and onions, and more than 45 canned and boxed food items serves them as they try to provide food and gifts for the children at Christmas.This Sunday we’ll share two more stories. One is of a widely loved Johnson City preschool teacher who adopted her 3-year-old granddaughter, endured the death of her husband and began her own courageous battle with terminal cancer all within the same year and a half. The other story is that of a young mother who was so traumatized by an abusive spouse she was afraid to leave her home, even to work.While we never identify the Christmas Box recipients by their real names, we share their circumstances to bring light to the harsh reality that in thousands of local households enough food to eat is not a given, even at Christmas. In just a few weeks the volunteer directors of the nonprofit Christmas Box project will meet with the Johnson City Salvation Army to begin making plans for this year’s holiday food distribution to the families of the more than 2,700 Angel Tree children and hundreds of low-income seniors in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties. Our hope is the community’s history of generous support for the project will continue and that the Christmas Box will be able to provide holiday food to those in the community who are in need at the same level that it has for many years. Our continuing appeal is for those who wish to help to make their donations to the project early. Art Powers, chairman of the Christmas Box board, has expressed thanks to every contributor who has responded to our campaign for early donations and renewed our request for others who wish to help to donate now.Tax deductible contributions to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box may be made by mail to P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605. Because the newspaper covers all administrative costs of the project, 100 percent of all donations are used to purchase food.Second Harvest Food Bank, a longtime helper in the Christmas Box project and hundreds of other holiday and everyday charitable food distributions in Northeast Tennessee, is preparing for one of its most popular fundraisers of the year. The Farmer and the Chef, a benefit dinner that pairs some of the region’s most talented chefs with some of its most skilled food producers, will be held Aug. 7 at the The Blackthorn Club at the Ridges Golf and Country Club in Jonesborough.A unique culinary experience featuring the chef’s signature dishes made with the freshest seasonal produce available will be held from 6-10 p.m. at the club at 1501 Ridges Club Drive. To take advantage of the height of the local growing season, the date of the event has been moved forward this year. But, as in past years, the evening will also feature live and silent auctions of a wide range of gift items, weekend getaways, spa treatments, golf packages and more — all donated by local Second Harvest supporters. Tickets are $75. Table sponsorships are $600 and include complimentary wine and recognitions. Donations for the auctions are still being accepted. All proceeds will go directly to assisting individuals and families in the region who go hungry because of their lack of access to food. For reservations or more information, call the food bank at 279-0430.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. Follow Sue Guinn Legg on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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