Located in the former Johnson City Ford dealership on Princeton Road, the marketplace is transforming the building into shopping departments stocked with toys, age-appropriate gifts, shoes, coats, and clothing for boys and girls and young men and women that their parents, grandparents and guardians will be able to choose from.
Good Samaritan Ministries Operations Director Pai Mashayamunda said one of the most beneficial aspects of the marketplace is that the hour or more of volunteer service it requires of each of the families it benefits gives them a sense of empowerment and pride in being able to contribute to their children’s Christmas.
And that empowerment is enhanced, Mashayamunda said, in the days before Christmas when the families return to do their own shopping.
To make the project work, local businesses, churches and individual volunteers are also contributing, bringing in donations, decorating and stocking shelves in preparation for three days of marketplace shopping to begin next weekend and continue on Dec. 21.
Good Samaritan Executive Director Aaron Murphy said the goal is to provide approximately $150 worth of clothing and gifts for each of 1,000 children and teens registered.
On Wednesday, Murphy said, the project was approximately $78,000 away from meeting that goal and welcoming both monetary and gift donations from the community.
“No child should wake up on Christmas with no gifts,” Murphy said. “This is the season of giving. So let us as a community answer the call to give our neighbors in need.”
For those who would like to help, an individual sponsorship of $150 will put together a complete package of Christmas clothing and gifts for one child or teen. Monetary donations of any amount may be made online at goodsamjc.org or by mail to P.O. Box 2441.
Gift items for the marketplace may be dropped off Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-noon and 1-3:30 p.m. at Good Samaritan’s offices at 100 N. Roan St. or its marketplace location at 207 Princeton Road.
The ministry is also in great need of volunteers to help with the marketplace set up and shopping days. Those who wish to help may call 423-928-1958 for more information.
For low-income seniors at risk of going without at Christmas, the ministry is also in its second year of its “Love Bucket” outreach that provides small gifts and basic necessities to each of 250 elderly and disabled adults in need. Warm socks, gloves, scarves and toboggans, Christmas treats, cleaning supplies and other helpful households items are being packed in a colorful plastic buckets for pickup or delivery to the seniors homes.
And for Christmas dinner for everyone on Good Samaritan’s list, the ministry is attempting to repeat its Thanksgiving distribution of holiday food boxes and fully prepared dinners to 1,000 families and seniors in need.
For those who wish to help, a $50 sponsorship donation will fill a Love Bucket for one senior or a $35 donation earmarked for “Christmas food” will provide a ham and large holiday food box for a family or fully prepared holiday dinner for a senior or disabled adult.