The ministry’s Christmas assistance program for poor, low-income and homeless families and individual in nine area counties focuses on teens and children who are not eligible for other holiday gift-giving programs and on children whose parents are incarcerated.
The program is designed to provide a platform for local churches, business and individuals who wish share to the love of Christ during the celebration of his birth by sponsoring a family or an individual child, teen or senior who will be without gifts .
Be a Light Cards with the first names, ages, clothing sizes and, in some cases, the special gift wishes of the children, teens and seniors are available for those who wish to take part in the shopping, or sponsorship donations may be made to the ministry to cover the cost of their gifts.
Good Samaritan’s goal is provide a new outfit of clothing, a pair of shoes, a winter coat, socks and underwear, basic toiletries and an age appropriate toy or gift to every child and teen; and a blanket, toiletries, cleaning supplies and warm winter hats and gloves to every senior.
While all gifts and monetary donations of any amount are helpful, Good Samaritan Executive Director Aaron Murphy said a $150 sponsorship will allow the ministry to provide all of the above gifts.
On the meaning of the gift outreach, Murphy said, “Christmas is the time of year we celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and the time of year we take upon ourselves the opportunity to give to those we love.
“We realize there are many who do not have the opportunity to not only to give but to receive, and we want to provide that opportunity.”
Of the 1,100 individuals registered for the program, more than 800 were still without sponsorships early Friday and 200 more were on the ministry’s still growing waiting list. The gift distribution is set to begin Dec. 20 and the ministry is asking those who wish to adopt a family or an individual child, teen or senior to shop for to bring their gifts to the ministry by Wednesday, Dec. 13.
For those who do not receive sponsorships, the ministry will assemble smaller gift boxes for which donations of new clothing and age-appropriate gifts are needed. The most needed items are gifts for teen boys and girls, such as selfie sticks, earphones or earbuds, cosmetics, beauty products and fragranced lotions for girls and sports balls of all varieties for boys.
Volunteers to help pack and distribute the gifts will be needed daily through the end of the distribution and may drop by the ministry at 100 N. Roan St. or call Good Samaritan Volunteer Director Vicki Bradshaw at 928-1958 for information.
Jessica and Mike Whitson helped in the distribution last year and this year selected a family of five children, ages 9 to 17, who did not receive sponsorships last year. The Whitsons’ dropped off their gifts — seven large plastic bags packed full and two brand new trail bikes — on Friday and will be back next week to help in the distribution.
“It’s nice to able to give back when you can,” Jessica said. “There were a lot of kids last year, a lot of families. All of these kids were ones that didn’t get picked up last year. Some of them only wished for blankets. It’s sad to think of a kid whose only wish for Christmas would be a blanket.”
“We did get them blankets. But we got them some toys and fun things to play with too,” Mike said.
For food for the families, Murphy said Good Samaritan will be distributing large boxes of nonperishable items, hams, cleaning supplies and paper products as well as fully prepared meals for seniors, veterans and disabled adults in a Christmas food outreach that will include well over 3,000 people. For those who wish to help with the food, a $35 sponsorship will provide a food box for one family or a prepared meal for a senior, veteran or disabled adult.
According to Murphy, the food distribution is a repeat of the same holiday food outreach Good Samaritan conducted at Thanksgiving with 100 percent sponsorship from the community. To each of those sponsorship contributors and to those who will “Be a Light” for their community through their participation in the ministry’s Christmas assistance program, he said, “We truly thank and appreciate every community supporter of our efforts of giving to our neighbors in need.”
Donations to Good Samaritan earmarked for Christmas may be made online at goodsamjc.org or by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605.
Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.