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Angel Tree, Christmas Box help bring holiday cheer to nearly 1,000 families in need

Jonathan Roberts • Updated Dec 20, 2019 at 9:20 PM

The holidays are supposed to be cheerful and happy. But when you’re worried about how to give your family a Christmas they deserve, that holiday cheer can disappear.

That’s where the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree and the Johnson City Press’ Christmas Box come in.

“At the end of the week, we will have distributed toys, gifts and food to almost 1,600 children and families,” said Angel Tree organizer and Johnson City Salvation Army administrator Lt. Bethany Yocum. “This is important, because our mission is strictly to meet human need in the name of Jesus without discrimination, and one of the greatest needs at Christmastime is support.”

After providing for nearly 600 families in Carter County on Wednesday, the Angel Tree and Christmas Box volunteers set up shop at the Appalachian Fairgrounds, delivering gifts and food to about 1,000 children and families.

“I think it’s a great program that supports the mission of the Salvation Army and that’s why I do what I do: Because they like to help others,” said Salvation Army board member Robert McKinney. “It does my heart good to see that the Salvation Army is carrying out its mission to help others.

“It tugs at your heart to see so many people that need to be helped, being helped,” McKinney added.

As car after car rolled through the fairgrounds, collecting what they needed, it was hard to misss the sense of community hanging around the buildings where goods were distributed. With each cart they brought out, volunteers were smiling, laughing and visibly eager to help make this Christmas a special one for a family that may not have one otherwise.

“This is a Christmas gift I give to myself,” said board member Judy Moss. “I’m usually the one walking away figuring that I’ve been given a gift (by helping), so it’s just great.”

Yocum said the Angel Tree and Christmas Box drives are all about bringing “joy and hope” to those in need.

“It’s overwhelming to see the need of people, but it’s also overwhelming to recognize that every single person who came in today, their need was met,” Yocum said. “That means that not only is the need great, but the support is great.”

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