The Times-News Rescue Fund, which aims to put a little extra food on the holiday tables of some of the region’s less fortunate families, begins today. Over the coming weeks, stories will chronicle many of their struggles.
Times-News Content Director Stephanie McClellan, who heads the Rescue Fund, said the effort’s main goal is to offer hope.
“Each year we are touched by the generosity of our readers who open their hearts and their wallets to help brighten Christmas for some of the region’s neediest families,” McClellan said.
“While most of us turn our thoughts to enjoying the coming holidays, thousands of our neighbors in this region are doing without some of life’s basic necessities: adequate clothing, shelter and food. Over the next few weeks, the Times-News will tell you about some of these families in need. We hope these stories will be a link between those who help and those who need help.”
Last year’s Rescue Fund goal was $60,000.
“Thanks to our readers, we met that goal,” McClellan said Friday. “We’ve set the same goal this year, and we are confident our readers will once again help us achieve or exceed it.”
The Rescue Fund serves families in Lee, Wise and Scott counties in Virginia and Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee.
But as with any program of this type, success is dependent on the caring and charity of those who contribute to help the less fortunate.
“Through the years we have found that in most cases, the families have been left in need because of some tragic misfortune — often illness,” McClellan said. “The Rescue Fund can’t change their circumstances directly, but it can provide some food, and more importantly, it shows that someone cares.”
All donations will be listed in the newspaper, although donors may choose to remain anonymous. Many who have donated to the Rescue Fund through the years have done so in memory of a loved one.
“The Times-News is privileged to conduct the program. But it is our readers who make it possible, who bring a bit of holiday cheer to families desperately in need,” McClellan said.
Donations to the Rescue Fund are used to provide food and grocery gift cards. Rescue Fund families are screened by social services agencies in Lee, Scott and Wise counties in Virginia and by the Salvation Army in its service area of Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee.
“This money is going where it needs to go. We’re going to feed people,” said Kingsport Salvation Army Major Jayne May.
“We appreciate the people who give to the Rescue Fund so others can have a better Thanksgiving and Christmas than they would otherwise. If the Kingsport Salvation Army didn’t have this help from Times-News readers through the newspaper’s Rescue Fund, it would be devastating. I don’t think we would be able to provide any Thanksgiving (boxes of food) at all, and our budget would not allow very much for Christmas. We’d of course serve a meal here. But the Rescue Fund is for us very much a sort of food drive with the proceeds benefiting hundreds of families with what we hope is enough extra food for a good holiday meal. The primary focus is for Christmas, but we do provide a relatively small number of food boxes to help families at Thanksgiving as well with Rescue Fund contributions.”
The Rescue Fund also gives the Salvation Army more flexibility to direct resources it would otherwise be using to conduct its own food drive, May said.
“It’s a great partnership between the Salvation Army, the Times-News and the community,” May said. “It speaks to the region’s community spirit and the generosity of the people who live here.”
Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Times-News Rescue Fund, 701 Lynn Garden Dr., Kingsport, TN, 37660.