Two weeks out from this year’s distribution of Johnson City Press Christmas Box food to more than 1,800 low-income households and Salvation Army Angel Tree gifts for more than 2,700 children in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties, support for the sister projects is running significantly behind donations received at this time last year.
On Wednesday, monetary gifts to help the Christmas Box provide holiday food boxes for the families of each Angel Tree child and grocery shopping gift cards for several hundred low-income seniors was about $7,000 behind donations received in Washington and Unicoi counties at this time last year.
“It’s running slower this year and it’s a larger need because of the increased food prices. But the community always steps forward to make sure we have enough funds to provide the food and I think we still have time to get there,” Christmas Box Chairman Art Powers said.
The cost of this year’s Christmas Box project, including turkeys, hams, all the makings of a holiday meal and enough extras for several additional meals for each family, is projected to come in at $75,000, or about $20,000 more than last year.
While a comparison of donations to the Christmas Box received from Carter County contributors is not yet available, the Salvation Army is reporting Angel Tree adoptions are about 250 children behind the pace of last year’s project in Carter County and about 75 children behind in Washington and Unicoi counties.
Donations to the Salvation Army’s bell-ringing Red Kettle campaign, which supports services to the community’s needy at Christmas and throughout the year, are also down by about $10,000 compared to those received at this point in 2011.
Capt. Fallyn Garrison, who is heading up preparations for the Angel Tree distribution at the Appalachian Fair, said the Angle Tree numbers Washington and Unicoi counties are encouraging and remained optimistic all 2,707 children in the three areas counties included in the project will be adopted by holiday shoppers.
The deadline for Angel Tree shoppers to return their gifts to the trees is Dec. 13. Distribution of the gifts and food from Christmas Box will be held Dec. 19 in Carter County and Dec. 20 at the fairgrounds in Gray.
The Salvation Army Angel Trees are located outside JC Penney at The Mall at Johnson City, at both Walmart stores, Sandy’s Jewel Box and Verizon Wireless locations in Johnson City and at Walmart, FATZ restaurant and several banks in Elizabethton. Angel Tree children also may be adopted by calling the Salvation Army at 926-2101.
For those who wish to help the Christmas Box project, a $35 donation will provide all the makings of a holiday meal, including a 12-pound turkey, a 4-pound ham and enough extra staples for several additional meals for one family, or a $35 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. The newspaper covers all administrative costs of the project, so that all donations 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 how to help with the Christmas Box, call Ron Tipton at the Press at 929-3111, ext. 302.