Johnson City Press Christmas Box food for nearly 1,700 area families and seniors in need and Salvation Army Angel Tree gifts for a record 2,719 low-income children in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties are set to roll out.
Volunteers in Carter County will kick off the sister holiday projects’ gift giving for Carter County families on Monday at the former Magic Mart building on West Elk Avenue in Elizabethton. The distribution will continue Tuesday at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray for Washington and Unicoi county residents and extend into Wednesday if needed.
On Friday, volunteers at the fairgrounds were waiting to process gift packages for the final 400 Angel Tree children whose packages were yet to be turned in. While Saturday was the official deadline for Angel Tree shoppers to drop off their gifts, the volunteers will welcome late packages and donations of new clothing and toys at the fairgrounds on Monday as they begin the process of filling boxes for Angel Tree children who have not been adopted and supplementing packages for those who receive few gifts.
With a record number of children included in the shopping adoption project this year, the Salvation Army was thrilled when, for the first time in memory, area shoppers took all the children’s names from the Angel Trees in the first week of December. And on Friday, lead volunteer Mattie Mullins reported the quality and quantity of the gifts given this year have been the most generous she has seen.
“We just want to thank everybody for their participation. It’s been so good. And with the economy, I thought it would be just the opposite,” Mullins said.
For children who have received little in their packages, volunteers are supplementing each child’s gift box as needed with additional toys or clothing purchased by the Salvation Army. “We make sure all the boxes are full and adequate and that’s our plea now, for clothes,” Mullins said. “For someone who wants to help, if they would just buy clothes of any size, boys or girls, that would help us.”
Meanwhile, donations to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box for holiday food boxes for the families of each of the Angel Tree children and for grocery shopping gift cards for hundreds of low-income seniors are lagging about $20,000 behind last year’s stellar Christmas Box drive.
Art Powers, publisher of the Johnson City Press and president of the Christmas Box board of directors, said he is confident community members will once again meet the cost of the holiday food distribution, which this year weighs in as one of the heftiest in the project’s 31-year history.
Each of this year’s food boxes will contain more than 65 pounds of dry and canned goods, a 10-pound bag of potatoes, a 3-pound bag of onions, a 10- to 12-pound turkey and a 7-pound ham. Powers said, “For this to be a success, we still need your help as contributions are running behind.
“I urge you to help as the need is so very great. We have already bought over $10,000 of turkeys and a like amount of 7-pound hams. Our distribution days are upon us. We need your help now.
“Thank you for always being there for needy families. Your gifts will make thousands happy,” Powers said.
With food secured from Second Harvest Food Bank and contributions from Stanley Dunbar of Moody Dunbar, a $35 donation to the Christmas Box will cover the cost of one holiday food box for a family. In addition to a turkey, a ham and all the makings of a holiday meal, each box also contains enough extra staples for several additional meals for a family. And for seniors and households of one or two people, the Christmas Box will once again provide $30 grocery shopping gift cards.
For those who wish to contribute, tax deductible donations to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box of Northeast Tennessee may be made by mail to P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605. The newspaper covers all administrative costs of the project so that 100 percent of all monetary gifts go to the purchase of food.
For more information about the Angel Tree project, call the Salvation Army at 926-2101. For more information about the Christmas Box, call the Johnson City Press at 929-3111.