For 40 years, readers of this newspaper have made a difference in many thousands of lives through the Times-News Rescue Fund. Their donations allow families throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia to receive food vouchers that might not fill the refrigerator, but do help our neighbors who are doing without adequate clothing, shelter and food.
We’ll be writing about some of those families over the coming weeks of this year’s campaign.
Their stories are intended to be a link between those who help and those who need help — families who are victims of circumstances often beyond their control. Certainly, that’s true of the children in these households.
The Rescue Fund has grown considerably since its inception. It also has changed significantly in the last several years — not in its goal, but in its method. For many years, actual food baskets were carefully prepared and hand delivered to recipients. This, of course, required literally hundreds of volunteers, not to mention immense storage for the food itself and staging to fill the boxes.
In order to make the fund more efficient, we no longer buy food and deliver it. Instead, through the assistance of the Salvation Army and the Department of Social Services in Lee and Wise counties — and some other special people — the fund gives to families who have established their eligibility vouchers that can be used for foodstuffs only.
That change has saved the program many thousands of dollars in supplies and even more money in overhead. Because of that, and because all other aspects of managing the program are donated by the Times-News and other volunteers, literally every penny you give goes to feeding the needy during the holiday season.
Last year, $60,000 was raised for food vouchers to be distributed to needy families in Lee, Wise and Scott counties in Virginia, and Sullivan, Hawkins and Washington counties in Tennessee. That amount — a record for the Rescue Fund — was made possible by hundreds of donations from readers.
As with any program of this type, success is dependent on the caring and charity of those who contribute to help the less fortunate. We have found that in most cases, the families have been left in need because of some tragic circumstance beyond their control — most often illness. The Rescue Fund can’t change their circumstances directly. But it can provide foodstuffs for hungry children. And more important, 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.
We encourage you to read the Rescue Fund families’ stories. They will publish periodically on the front page between now and Christmas week. The stories are all that’s needed to show whom the Rescue Fund helps each holiday season — or we should say, whom you help each holiday season.
We are 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 and who otherwise would have no hope of a happy holiday.
It is our readers who bring a smile to the faces of children living in the depths of poverty, at least during this very special time of the year.
Speaking for those children, we thank you for your help and support once again.
A blessing given is a blessing received, and it is through those blessings that we hope to maintain, and perhaps even expand, the number of families reached by the Rescue Fund.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Times-News Rescue Fund at P.O. Box 479, Kingsport, Tenn. 37662.
A receipt will be mailed, and the donation will be listed in the Times-News in your name, anonymously, or in someone’s memory.
On behalf of those needy families, thanks, once again, for your help.