Christians in Action, a charity born of a desire to provide local children with their own copy of the story of Christ’s birth, is back in action this week at the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree sign-up.
CIA tables loaded with hundreds of Christmas storybooks for children from birth to age 16 are set up at the front of the Salvation Army Super Family Thrift store at 2506 S. Roan St. This is where low-income families in Washington and Unicoi counties will be registering for the Angel Tree Christmas shopping adoption project for children and food for holiday from the Johnson City Press Christmas Box through Friday.
Next week, CIA volunteers will load up their books and accompany the Salvation Army to Elizabethton where Carter County residents in need will register for the Angel Tree and Christmas Box projects Monday and Tuesday at Oak Street Baptist Church.
For every child signed up, for every teen too old for Angel Tree gifts and for each of their mothers too, there’s a free book waiting — board books for babies, Read-and Play books with felt cling characters and read-along books with CD narrations for toddlers, and large, colorfully-illustrated hardcover books for the youngest readers. For Spanish-speaking kids, there’s “La Historia de Navidad de Maria.” And for tweens, there is author Susan Leigh’s “The Christmas List,” a story of child who learns to give at Christmas.
For older readers, CIA’s free books transcend the Christmas story and move on to Christian perspectives on the daily trials of modern living. For teens there’s author Justin Lookadoo’s “Chat Room Chatter, The Buzz on Prom Dates, Super Heroes and the Universe at Large.” And for frazzled, working moms, there’s “Becoming, a New Testament Biblezine.”
Founded in 2009 through a collaboration between late Johnson City businessman Ben Scharfstein and Beverly Smith, CIA’s mission is to share the true meaning of Christmas through books that will remain in a child’s home and in their life. CIA volunteers spend the year collecting donations and shopping for the best prices on the best books they can locate. They give the books away months in advance of the holiday so children will read the books now and not lose their message in the Christmas rush.
Last year, CIA distributed more than 2,400 books to Angel Tree children in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties and is prepared to distribute up to 4,000 books this year. For those who wish to help, CIA will begin shopping for next year’s distribution in January with donations that may be made to Summit Leadership Foundation and earmarked for CIA. The donations may be mailed to CIA Summit Leadership, P.O. Box 3555, Johnson City, TN 37602-3555 or online at www.summitlife.org.