The Salvation Army wrapped up its weeklong registration for Angel Tree gifts and Johnson City Press Christmas Box food for low-income households in Washington and Unicoi counties Friday at the fairgrounds in Gray. Registration for Carter County families and lowincome seniors will be held today from 4 to 6 p.m., and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Oak Street Baptist Church, 804 Oak St., Elizabethton.
At lunch time on Friday, more than 670 families, including approximately 1,400 children, had registered and Salvation Army Captains Nick and Fallyn Garrison were expecting up to 200 additional households to sign up through the afternoon.
“It’s gone very well, busy,” Fallyn said. With 12 volunteers and three Salvation Army staff members working the registration tables, about 50 families signed up hourly throughout the week.
Fallyn said more volunteers will be needed at the fairgrounds when gift processing for the Angel Tree project begins in about two weeks, and “as many as possible” for the Dec. 20 gift and food distribution at the fairgrounds.
The Carter County distribution will be held Dec. 19 in Elizabethton, where Salvation Army Captain Dianne Welch is coordinating the Angel Tree project with Hale Community Ministry and the Chamber of Commerce volunteers.
For those who wish to begin shopping early, Fallyn Garrison said Angel Tree children children may be adopted beginning Friday by calling the Salvation Army at 926-2101.
The Angel Tree shopping will officially kick off at noon Nov. 16 at The Mall in Johnson City with music by the Indian Trail Middle School Choir.
The Carter County kickoff will also be held on Nov. 16 at Walmart in Elizabethton. And Fallyn said paper angel ornaments with the first name, age, clothing and shoe sizes and gift wishes for each of the children will be placed on Angel Trees located at shopping centers throughout both cities beginning on that date.
For the fifth consecutive year, the first gifts for the Angel Tree children — age-appropriate Christmas story books from the nonprofit Christians in Action organization — are being distributed at the signup.
Founded by the late Johnson CitybusinessmanBenScharfstein and continued under the nonprofit umbrella of the Summit Leadership Foundation, CIA’s mission is to provide every child with a quality, color illustrated book that tells the story of Christ’s birth and the first Christmas celebration to enjoy now and throughout the holiday season.
CIA’s volunteer director Beverly Smith begins buying the books in January in bulk at discount prices that Smith says allows CIA to purchase $15 books at prices comparable to that of individual Christmas cards. This year’s books range from Christmas in Bethlehem coloring books and bedtime stories for toddlers to “Things I Learned Lately,” author Danae Jacobson’s thoughts on God, love, teachers and friends, for teens.
The book distribution has grown annually and this year will also include books for every child in the Johnson City Housing Authority and every child at the annual Christmas party at Carver Recreation Center. On Friday, the CIA volunteers had depleted their supply of crayons.
The project is made possible by donations from individuals and Sunday school and Bible study groups throughout the community. For those who wish to help, donations may be made by mail to P.O Box 1276, Johnson City, TN 37605. Checks should be made payable to Summit Leadership Foundation and earmarked for CIA. For more information about the project, call Summit Leadership at 283-7557.
For those who wish to help with the Christmas Box holiday food distribution for the Angel Tree children and their families and for hundreds of area seniors in need, a $35 donation 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 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 to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box of Northeast Tennessee may be made by mail to 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.
Nick Garrison said, “We hope this gives these moms and dads and seniors a chance to enjoy the holidays too, and to know that their children will be taken care of at Christmas.”