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Baby's disabilities leave young couple in need of help at Christmas

Sue Guinn Legg • Dec 9, 2018 at 12:02 AM

Courtney’s little one won’t have his second birthday until March, but has already been through six surgeries. Courtney is just 20 herself, and is not working because of the extra responsibilities that came with his disabilities.

Her boyfriend is a home caregiver with wages that barely cover their car payment, trailer rent, utilities and child support on his older son, a 4-year-old who also spends several days each week at their house.

The supplement the baby receives from Social Security disqualifies their family for food stamps, but does cover the cost of twice the diapers needed for healthy child — one diaper to cover his bottom and a second to cover the colostomy opening that, for now, empties through his belly.

The baby is diagnosed with Hirchsprunge disease, a condition that led to his colon being removed and his small intestine diverted. After his second birthday, hopes are that one more surgery will allow his bowels to move normally.

In addition to all of that, he was born without a soft spot in his skull. The medical term is cranial stenosis, and the reality is another series of surgeries for which the prognosis is very good.

The blessing, Courtney said, is “Other that, he’s very smart and sweet.” He’s already in 2T clothing and size 6 shoes. He loves cars, balls and riding toys and he is ready for a trike.

But for this year, anyway, gifts from the Salvation Army Angel Tree and a big holiday food box from the Johnson City Press Christmas Box will be the key to their Christmas.

“The food will help a lot actually” Courtney said. “And toys are so expensive. We have gotten them a few things. But the reality of it is, it’s not going to be much.”

Now in its 38th season, the Christmas Box provides all the makings of a Christmas dinner and several additional meals for families of three or more people and $35 in grocery shopping gift certificates for seniors who live alone and for small households of one or two people.

The food distribution is made possible entirely by monetary gifts from individuals, churches, businesses and clubs, grocers and food producers who donate or discount their products for the Christmas Box, and several key project partners, including Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.

For those who wish to help with the distribution, the Christmas Box is a 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax deductible. And because the Johnson City Press covers all administrative costs for the project, 100 percent of all donations are used to purchase food. Donations may be made online at jcpchristmasbox.com or by mail to P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605.

More information about the Christmas Box can be found at the website or at the Johnson City Press Christmas Box page on Facebook, or may be obtained by calling Press Staff Writer Sue Guinn Legg at 423-722-0538.

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