For all the difficulties she’s been through, Faith, not her real name, considers herself richly blessed.
In summer 2010, Faith’s husband died. That fall she took custody of her infant granddaughter. And in February she began her ongoing battle with cancer.
Her granddaughter, now 3, is bright and precocious and shows no ill effect from the drugs that were found in her system at birth, or the time she spent living on the streets with her mother.
Faith’s sisters are devoted to her and have been at her beck and call since she became ill. And their care has been even more attentive since she underwent a double mastectomy in November.
When the illness brought on by chemotherapy kept her from working and her unemployment eventually ran out, local ministries and churches paid Faith’s rent and utilities and helped her apply for disability benefits and assistance with her heat bill.
Her landlord, who had never before worked with Section Eight renters, began the application process to keep Faith and her grandchild under roof and is now making the minor updates to her home the program requires. And despite the three months’ back rent she owes him, he has never spoken of eviction.
Good Samaritan Ministries is searching for the newer stove and refrigerator Section Eight is also requiring of Faith, and seeking an attorney to help with her disability claim pro bono.
And for someone who is fighting cancer with no income and less than $150 a month from the Department of Children’s Services to provide for her grandchild, Faith is remarkably grateful. “I am blessed,” she said. “I know there are people who have harder things they deal with than I do and I am so blessed.“
For Christmas, the tiny bike with training wheels and the Dora the Explorer educational toys Faith would have bought for her granddaughter if she were well are now in the hands of Salvation Army Angel Tree shoppers.
Whatever gifts her grandchild receives, she said, “the difference will be seeing her get up on Christmas and see her things, and not seeing.”
The $35 grocery shopping gift card that will come from the Johnson City Press Christmas Box will also help Faith. “Anything will help.”
Area shoppers adopted the last of a total of 2,707 Angel Tree children in in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties on Thursday. Those who have not returned their gifts are asked to bring their unwrapped packages to Johnson City Salvation Army’s office at 204 W. Walnut St. by Monday. Donations of new toys and coats for children whose gifts are not returned are needed and may also may be dropped off at the office. The army will begin packing gift boxes for “forgotten Angels” on Tuesday.
Christmas Box food and Angel Tree gifts for Carter County residents will be distributed Wednesday at the former Magic Mart building in Elizabethton. Foods and gifts for Washington and Unicoi residents will be distributed Thursday at the Appalachian Fair in Gray
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 a household of one or two people.
Donations to the Christmas Box are tax deductible and 100 percent of every gift is used to 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
To help Good Samaritan Ministries provide gifts for the teenage siblings of the Angel Tree children, donations may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org, or by mail to P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN, 37605-2441.
For more information about how to help with the Christmas Box, call Ron Tipton at the Johnson City Press at 929-3111, ext. 302. For more information on how to help with the Angel Tree,call the Salvation Army at 926-2101. For more information about how to help Good Samaritan, call 928-1958.
Now in its 32nd year, the Johnson City Press Christmas Box is once again working in partnership with the Salvation Army to provide food for the holiday to the families of more than 2,700 Angel Tree children and to several hundred seniors in need in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties. The above story is the last in a series about the hardships the gift recipients face and what difference contributions to the sister projects will make.