Good Samaritan Ministries’ distribution of holiday food and gifts for 2,200 low-income children, teens, seniors and their families is under way and will continue through Friday.
The distribution is being held even as the ministry continues its appeal for sponsorships for about 50 teenagers who are still without gifts and for contributions to help cover the remaining cost for its 650 family food boxes and 250 prepared holiday meals for homebound seniors and disabled adults.
“Even at this late date, we still have 50 children and teens who are without sponsors and we are still $12,000 short on our prepared meals that mostly go to the elderly,” David Hanson, Good Samaritan’s director of church and community services, said Wednesday as the gift package and food boxes were going out.
The distribution will continue today and Friday at the ministry at 100 N. Roan St. On Friday, local police officers and firefighters will help Good Samaritan wrap up its holiday outreach with the delivery of prepared holiday meals, fruit baskets and gifts to the homes of disabled seniors and adults who cannot make the trip out.
With any last minute contributions received on Friday, Hanson said, the ministry’s staff will continue their shopping through the evening and will be able distribute gifts as late as Saturday with the hope no teen is left out.
All total, Good Samaritan’s Christmas outreach this year includes nearly 300 teenaged siblings of children age 12 and under who receive gifts from the Salvation Army Angel Tree, 297 teenagers and 180 younger children with parents who are incarcerated, and 320 low-income home seniors and disabled adults.
With small gifts for the custodial parents of children and teens with parents in jail, holiday food for their families, prepared meals for the homebound and their families, and gifts and food for others who came to the ministry in emergency situations after its Christmas sign-up closed, Hanson said the outreach will impact about up to 2,400 individuals.
Good Samaritan’s goal is to provide each of the teens and children with an outfit of clothing, a coat and gloves and toys for the younger kids, and stockings stuffed with small gifts for each of the teens. There also will be small gifts for the children’s custodial parents and guardians, a blanket and gown, robe or house shoes for each of the seniors and food for all their families, including for the homebound whose prepared meals will be large enough for a family of four to enjoy.
“There are only a few days left and we still have needs, but these things have a way of just happening,” Hanson said. “The Lord works and people respond. It was just two weeks ago we had 538 that didn’t have sponsors and now we’re down to 50. For those 50 who are left, our hope is they won’t go back to school after Christmas dreading that question that’s always asked, ‘What did you get for Christmas?’ ”
In the meantime, contributions are still coming in and Good Samaritan’s staff members are shopping daily. For anyone who wishes to help, a $40 sponsorship will provide a prepared holiday meal for four people and a monetary gift of any amount will help provide gifts for a teenager still in need.
Sponsorships earmarked for “teen gifts” or for “Christmas food” may be made by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605 or online at www.goodsamjc.org. For those who wish to do their own shopping, Hanson suggested movie passes and gift cards, sports equipment, board games and art supplies, which may be dropped off at the ministry today and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information about the Good Samaritan’s Christmas outreach or how to help, call 928-1958.
This year’s Johnson City Press Christmas Box turned out to be the largest in the project’s 31-year history. At final count, the distribution included 1,160 holiday food boxes for families and 834 $30 grocery shopping gift cards for seniors, for a total of 1,994 low-income households in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties in need.
The distribution wrapped up at the Appalachian Fairgrounds on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the newspaper staff was putting together a list of the many businesses, organizations and individuals who helped put all the pieces together and making plans for a story to express our thanks for each and every gift.
The Christmas Box also was still gathering contributions for the Christmas Box on Wednesday and making good progress toward its approximate $53,000 cost. With $3,700 in gifts received this week, including a $1,006 contribution from Food City’s holiday Race Against Hunger, the outstanding cost was reduced from about $10,000 on Friday to less than $7,000 at the close of the business day on Wednesday.
All gifts for the Christmas Box have been appreciated and will be even more so this weekend when nearly 2,000 families and seniors sit down for a Christmas meal that otherwise would not have been so bountiful.
For those who still wish to help, contributions are still welcome and may be made by mail to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box of Northeast Tennessee, P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605. All gifts to the Christmas Box are tax deductible and because the newspaper covers all the administrative cost, all are used exclusively for the purchase of food.
For more information about the project, call Ron Tipton at the Press at 929-3111, ext. 302.