As most of us race around making frantic, last-minute trips to obtain a forgotten ingredient from the market or to purchase a final gift to place beneath the Christmas tree, its all too easy to forget those in need.
This week, while most of us are eagerly anticipating the warmth and love of a bountiful Christmas, hundreds of our neighbors are doing without adequate clothing and shelter.
As we have for more than three decades, the Times-News has sponsored a Rescue Fund that, with your help, has given a little cheer and a lot of hope to folks who really need it during the holiday season.
It is so gratifying every year to read through the list of donors that we publish on our Metro front. You see large donations of $1,000 or more from folks who wish to remain anonymous. And you see donations of $10 from folks where you know that it is just as significant, because it may mean that they gave up a meal that day so they could be of use to others.
This is the heart and soul of the Rescue Fund. It’s people helping people; it’s giving them a way to do it.
They write to tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to help provide the region’s most needy families with a little bit of groceries. It’s just remarkable; it refreshes us.
If you want to know what Christmas is all about, if somehow the spirit and true meaning of Christmas have passed you by, then just read that donor list every day. And you will understand.
The Rescue Fund has grown considerably since its inception. It also has changed significantly in the last few 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 hundreds of volunteers, not to mention immense storage for the food itself.
In order to make the fund more efficient, we no longer buy food and deliver it. Instead, through the assistance of the Kingsport Salvation Army and some other special people, the fund gives vouchers that can be used only for foodstuffs to families who have established their eligibility for the program.
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 unpaid volunteers, literally every penny you give goes to feeding the needy during the holiday season
This year, despite the many, many donations large and small that we have received, the Rescue Fund has not yet met last year’s funding level. Needless to say, if that shortfall isn’t reversed — and soon — the number of families helped through the Rescue Fund could be reduced significantly
As with any program of this type, success is totally dependent on the caring and charity of those who contribute to help the less fortunate.
We have found that in most cases, the families receiving aid have been left in need because of some tragic event or circumstance beyond their control.
While the Rescue Fund can’t change their circumstances directly, it can provide foodstuffs for hungry children.
And, just as important, it shows that someone out there actually cares. It provides a much needed morale boost.
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.