Editor’s Note: Now in its 32nd year, the Johnson City Press Christmas Box is once again working in partnership with the Salvation Army to provide holiday food for the families of more than 2,700 children in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties included in this year’s Angel Tree project and several hundred area seniors in need. The following story is the third in a series about the hardships the gift recipients face and what a difference contributions to the sister holiday projects will make.
Carol, not her real name, was in her early 30s and working in the same factory she had worked in most of her life when her employer cut back production and cut a lot of jobs.
To help pay for the small mobile home where she lived with her husband and children, Carol went to work in home health care and had returned to school to earn her practical nursing license when an especially violent domestic assault wrecked her family, both financially and emotionally.
Her husband, who was a heavy drinker and had a history of assaulting Carol, came home “drunk and doped up,” threatening her and the children. He beat Carol unconscious and unrecognizable. The incident put her in the hospital and put her husband in prison. More than a year later she lives in fear of the day he is released. But her main worry is the day-to-day survival of her family.
While hospitalized for her injuries, Carol was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that causes blood to clot in her lungs. She has since been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and a couple of other psychological maladies related to her beating. While her wounds have healed, the anti-anxiety medications she needs interact dangerously with the blood thinning drugs she requires. So the woman who once worked full time and went to school to better support her family, now lives with severe anxiety that prevents her from working.
She and her children are getting by on food stamps and less than $500 a month allotted to her from her husband’s Social Security disability. Their mobile home payment is $400 a month. Their utilities are perpetually at risk of being shut off. Their past due electricity bill went past the cut-off date on Friday. She is applying for assistance to keep the lights on. And then there is Christmas.
Her two youngest children are registered for gifts from Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. The oldest, who is now a young teen and too old for the Angel Tree, understands their hardship. With help from the community, there may also be gifts for him from Good Samaritan Ministries’ Christmas distribution to teenage siblings of Angel Tree children and other teens and children whose parents are incarcerated.
There also will be ample food for Christmas at their little mobile home. Thanks to contributors to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box, there will be large holiday food boxes, turkeys and hams for the families of every Angel Tree child in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties, and grocery shopping gift cards for low-income seniors and small households of one or two people.
Without those gifts, Carol said, there would be nothing for her children. “It will be all they have, because we don’t have anything.”
For those who wish to help, a $35 donation to the Christmas Box will provide a turkey, a ham, all the makings of the holiday meal and enough extra staples for several additional meals for one family, or a $35 grocery gift card for a senior or household of one or two people. Donations to the Christmas Box are tax deductible and because the newspaper covers all administrative costs, 100 percent of every gift is used to purchase food. Donations may be mailed to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box of Northeast Tennessee, P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605. More information about how to help with project may be obtained by calling Ron Tipton at the Johnson City Press at 929-3111, ext. 302.
Angel Trees decorated with paper ornaments bearing the first names, clothing sizes and gift wishes of children in need are located outside JC Penney at The Mall at Johnson City, at both Johnson City Walmart stores, Sandy’s Jewel Box and Verizon Wireless locations, and in Elizabethton at Walmart, FATZ restaurant and several banks. Unwrapped gifts for the children are due back at the trees on Thursday. For more information on how to help with the Angel Tree or to adopt a group of children to shop for, call the Salvation Army at 926-2101.
For more information about how to help Good Samaritan Ministries with its drive to provide Christmas gifts for the teenage siblings of the Angel Tree children and other teens and children in need, call the ministry at 928-1958. Tax-deductible donations to the ministry earmarked for “Teens Christmas” may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605.