At ages 10 and 14, they do very well in school, one a straight-A student and the other with just As and Bs.
“They know the true meaning of Christmas,” he said. “My kids appreciate everything they get. Even if it is just one little thing, they appreciate it. They’re awesome kids. That’s for sure,” he said.
But still, they are kids. And Christmas is special.
So Mark is committed to making their holidays as special as he can. And for the past several years he’s had to have some help with that.
A roofer, Mark was putting up gutters nearly five years ago when he fell from a rooftop, landed on his feet and shattered both his heels.
He was told he would never walk again, and spent a full year in a wheelchair. But within a year he was back on his feet ready to go back to work.
“I got up in a year and I went back to work. I thought I could do it. But it was just too hard on me. Standing for just a little bit of time, my heels started hurting bad.”
Since then Mark has been working on a claim for disability benefits and depending on his wife to cover their expenses.
“She’s a CNA. She doesn’t make a whole lot of money. But she’s been doing most everything here lately,” he said. She was working the day he came to register their youngest for gifts from the Salvation Army Angel Tree. And he had already lined up another program to help with gifts for their oldest.
Mark and his wife own their mobile home, but not the lot on which it sits. And they qualify for food stamps, although not enough to feed them all through the end of each month.
For Christmas, with one child registered for the Angel Tree, the family will receive a large holiday food box with a ham, all the makings of their Christmas dinner and good supply of extra groceries from the Johnson City Press Christmas Box.
Mark has nothing but praise for both projects, which he said have previously done very well for their family, providing winter clothes that fit their children and more food than they expected. “I’ve been impressed. It’s a lot of food. And I thank the Angel Tree shoppers and you all,” he said.
Anyone who would like to help the more than 1,000 local families and several hundred area seniors who, like Mark and his family, struggle for food at Christmas and throughout the year, can make a $35 donation to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box and provide a large box with all the makings of a holiday dinner, a ham, 10 pounds of potatoes, 3 pounds of onions and more than 40 canned and packaged food items for a family of three or more people, or a $35 Food City gift certificate for a senior or small household of one or two people.
The Johnson City Press covers all of the administrative costs of the food distribution so that 100 percent of all Christmas Box donations are used to buy food. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online at jcpchristmasbox.com or by mail to P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN, 37605.