Seven children between the ages of 8 and 12 think of Angela as their mother. None of them are her biological children, but all of them are depending on her for Christmas.
Three of the girls and one of the boys are the children of Angela’s niece, a chronic drug user who was heavily addicted to cocaine before her early death.
The other three came to live with her about two years ago after a friend of hers went through more than a year of unemployment before finally taking a construction job out of town.
He sees his children and contributes what he can to their upkeep but is once again working sporadically while he cares for his aging father who lives with him in a one bedroom apartment. Sometime next year, Angela said, he expects to have a larger home for himself and his three children.
But as it is now, all seven children depend on Angela’s part-time wages of about $200 a week, the $250 in federal Assistance to Families with Dependent Children she receives each month and $700 in food stamps that run out before the end of each month.
Angela said the children are getting older and all of them want electronics for Christmas. They have shown her advertisements for inexpensive tablets but her focus is on winter boots and warm clothing.
“I told them, I’ll do the best I can but I can’t make any promises,” she said. The girls are all in middle school and have told her other kids are making fun of their clothes.
Last Christmas, Angela stuffed their stockings with combs, hair bows and cosmetics for the girls and little things for the boys. The Salvation Army provided each of them with new jackets and a few toys and a turkey and few groceries for their holiday meal
This year, Angela has registered all the children for gifts from the Salvation Army Angel Tree shoppers and for Johnson City Press Christmas Box food for the family. “I tell you it’s a blessing,” she said.
For those who wish to help the kids at Angela’s house and nearly 3,000 others in the Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties who are also facing hardships this Christmas, the Angel Tree project will run through Dec. 13 at The Mall at Johnson City and at the Walmart stores in Johnson City and Elizabethton.
To provide food for the holiday for all the Angel Tree children’s families and hundreds of low income seniors in the three counties, the Johnson City Press Christmas Box will provide a 15-pound turkey, a 3-pound canned ham, 10 pounds of potatoes, three pounds of onions and a large box containing an estimated 45 canned and box food items for each family of three or more people. And for each of the more than 600 households of one or two people, including many area seniors who live alone, the Christmas Box will distribute $35 grocery shopping gifts certificates to supplement their holiday meal.
For those who wish to help, a $35 donation to the Christmas Box will provide all the makings of a Christmas dinner and enough staples for several additional meals for a family of three or more or a $35 grocery certificate for a household of one or two. Because the Johnson City Press covers all the cost of holiday food distribution, 100 percent of all donations will be used to purchase food.
Tax deductible donations to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box may be by mail to P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605.
More information about the Christmas Box may be obtained by calling Ron Tipton at the Johnson City Press at 929-3111, ext. 302.