The Salvation Army kicked off its annual Angel Tree drive in Johnson City on Friday for local children in need of Christmas gifts and its Red Kettle bell-ringing campaign for donations to support year-round Salvation Army services to the homeless and the poor.
Salvation Army Commander Maj. Gary Elliott said a record 2,719 children from low-income families in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties will be included in this year’s Angel Tree shopping adoption project and encouraged shoppers to help the army provide the children with gifts of toys and clothing they may not otherwise receive.
“If you can, please adopt a child to shop for,” Elliott said.
Angel Trees decorated with paper ornaments bearing the first name, clothing and shoe size and Christmas wishes of each of the children will be set up at numerous shopping destinations this year, including Walmart stores in Johnson City, Elizabethton and Erwin; Sams Club; Steinmart; Sandy’s Jewel Box; Food City in Jonesborough; the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce; First Baptist Church in Elizabethton; the Elizabethton Star; and at the GNC Court located on the upper level at The Mall at Johnson City.
Those who wish to help may select a child to add to their shopping list and return their gifts and the tag from their Angel Tree ornament to the tree where the child was adopted by Dec. 17.
The gifts will be distributed to the children’s families, along with holiday food boxes provided by contributors to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box, Dec. 19 at the former Magic Mart building in Elizabethton and Dec. 20 and 21 at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray.
The Salvation Army will be ringing its Red Kettle bells Monday through Saturday through Christmas Eve for donations to support year-round services including emergency food and shelter for those who are without. For those who do not carry cash, the Salvation will introduce its new Red Kettle credit card machines Black Friday at The Mall and at Walmart on Browns Mill Road.
Volunteers are needed to help ring the Salvation Army bells and to man the Angel Tree adoption tables. Those who wish to help are invited to call the Salvation Army at 926-2101 for details.
To provide a Christmas meal for the families of each of the Angel Tree children and for hundreds of low-income seniors in the three-county area, the Salvation Army is once again working in partnership with the Johnson City Press Christmas Box project that this year will provide holiday food to more than 1,900 households in need.
This year the Christmas Box will provide all the makings of a holiday meal, including a 10- to 12-pound turkey, a 7-pound ham and enough extra staples for several additional meals to families of three or more people and $30 grocery shopping gift cards to households of one or two people.
For those who wish to help, the Christmas Box is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and contributions are tax deductible. The newspaper covers all administrative costs of the project so that all monetary gifts go directly to the 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. For more information about the Christmas Box and how to help, call Ron Tipton at the Press at 929-3111, ext. 302.