32nd annual Christmas Box drive to kick off

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 20, 2012 at 9:04 AM

The 32nd annual Johnson City Press Christmas Box drive to provide the ingredients for holiday meals to area families and seniors in need will kick off Sunday.

The Christmas Box project is once again being conducted in partnership with the Johnson City Salvation Army’s Angel Tree shopping adoption program for families in need of assistance with gifts of clothing and toys for their children. Registration for both projects will begin Monday for residents in Washington and Unicoi counties and continue the following week in Carter County. More than 2,000 households are expected to sign up.

Last year the Christmas Box provided a large holiday food box, a turkey and a ham to more than 1,200 low-income families in the three counties, grocery shopping gift cards to nearly 650 seniors and households of one or two people in those counties, and hams for nearly 650 families in Unicoi and Johnson counties included in other holiday food distributions.

This year’s goal is to meet or exceed those numbers and past Christmas Box supporters are already stepping up to help. Boxes for the distribution have once again been donated by the Temple Inland Co. of Elizabethton and will be ready for pickup this week. Stanley Dunbar, of the Moody Dunbar Co., has pledged 100 cases of 40-ounce cans of sweet potatoes. Christmas Box board member Tom Krieger is already working with many other past contributors to secure the boxes’ contents.

Last year’s food boxes weighed in at a record 65 pounds and included approximately 40 canned and boxed food items, 10 pounds of fresh potatoes, 3 pounds of fresh onions, a 15-pound turkey and a 7-pound ham. The fundrasing goal for this year’s project is $50,000.

Art Powers, president of the Christmas Box board of directors, said even with the increased cost of groceries this year, he is confident the food boxes will be as hearty as ever and the community will once again step up to help meet their cost.

“We expect the food boxes to be as great as ever. Even though some of the food prices have gone up, we believe in this community and we believe that they will step up to help us as they have year after year. Even with the higher prices, I think we’ll be in good shape to deliver as we have done for the last 31 years,” Powers said.

Johnson City Press Publisher Justin Wilcox has joined the Christmas Box board and said he is honored to be a part of the distribution. “Often times we get caught up in our daily lives and forget how important it is to help the community you live and work in,” he said.

“I am honored to be a part of this year’s campaign and look forward to helping those who may be unable to help themselves. Many of us are blessed to have stable jobs and families, but there are many in our communities who need a hand to get back on their feet. Do not forget them,” Wilcox said.

The Salvation Army’s registration for residents of Washington and Unicoi counties for Christmas Box food and Angel Tree gifts for children under age 12 will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Appalachian Fairgrounds. The registration will take place in exhibit Building No. 1, located just inside Gate No. 1 at 100 Lakeview St., Gray.

Registration for Carter County residents will be conducted from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 30 at Oak Street Baptist Church, 804 Oak St., Elizabethton.

Applicants must provide a photo ID for the person submitting the application and some form of ID for all household members, proof of age for children, proof of address and proof of income and expenses such as a food stamp letter of certification for those who receive food stamps. For more information about the registration, call the Salvation Army at 926-2101.

For those who wish to help, a $35 donation to the Christmas Box will provide all the makings of a holiday meal and enough staples for several extra meals for one family, or a grocery shopping gift card for a senior or a household of one or two people.

The Christmas Box is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation and all contributions are tax deductible. Because the newspaper covers all administrative costs of the project and all the labor is donated by volunteers, all monetary gifts go directly to the purchase of food. Donations may be mailed to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box of Northeast Tennessee, P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605.

For more information about the Christmas Box and how to help, call Ron Tipton at the Johnson City Press at 929-3111, ext. 302.

The Angel Tree shopping adoption project will kick off in mid-November. The distribution for both projects is tentatively planned for Dec. 20 and 21.

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