Salvation Army, Rescue Fund spread Christmas cheer

J. H. Osborne • Dec 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Thousands of toys, including about 350 bicycles, were sent on their way Thursday to about 3,300 local “angels.”

It was gift distribution day for the Salvation Army of Kingsport’s Angel Tree program — as well as the day that 1,700 area families received grocery vouchers from the Times-News Rescue Fund, funded through donations from the newspaper’s readers.

The Angel Tree campaign pairs children in need with donors who “adopt” them through a sort of “secret Santa” process. Gifts also come from the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program.

“We’d like to give a great big ‘thank you’ to everyone in the community for their generosity and support,” said Salvation Army Capt. Iva West. “It was a huge success this year.”

Gunnery Sgt. Eric Baker, Toys for Tots coordinator for the Tri-Cities region, said donations this year were somewhat below last year — but it was a good year, nonetheless, with an estimated 5,000 toys donated and another $60,000 worth purchased with monetary donations.

Money donated directly to the local Toys for Tots campaign stays in the area, Baker said, and fund raising goes on year-round.

The local Toys for Tots campaign provides toys to Salvation Army programs in Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City, and multiple other groups that provide local Christmas assistance such as Good Samaritan, Baker said.

Tax-deductible donations may be sent to: U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots, 251 Don May Road, Johnson City, Tenn. 37615.

The Times-News Rescue Fund partners with the Salvation Army of Kingsport to provide a little extra food to area families in need each Christmas.

The money raised during one year’s campaign is used to provide assistance to Rescue Fund families the next year. The amount raised last year was up from the year before — and that extra money helped meet a growing need, said Sarah Moody, office manager for the Salvation Army of Kingsport.

“Last year the Rescue Fund served about 1,400 households,” Moody said. “This year, it looks like our applications for assistance will top 1,700 households.”

Moody said the dollar amount of food vouchers this year ranged mainly from $18 to $60, based on the size of the family. A few vouchers will go out this year for over $60 — for families with 10 or more members to feed.

“Without help from the Rescue Fund there’s no way these families and the children would have anything extra for Christmas,” Moody said.

Contributions to the Rescue Fund can be sent to: Times-News Rescue Fund, P.O. Box 970, Kingsport, Tenn. 37662.

This year’s “Kettle Campaign” to raise money for the Kingsport Salvation Army’s Christmas assistance and other year-round programs continues until Christmas Eve.

The annual effort — with its ubiquitous red kettles and bell ringers stationed outside area businesses — helps fund other assistance programs offered by the Salvation Army throughout the year, providing shelter, clothing and food to those in need.

The Salvation Army uses some of the money collected to supplement gifts for children in the “Angel Tree” program.

The Kingsport Salvation Army, located at 505 Dale St., provides Christmas assistance to residents of Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee and Scott, Lee and Wise counties in Virginia.

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