GATE CITY — For Scott County resident Brandy, her husband and her four children, the last 18 months have been particularly tough.
While her husband works as a carpenter, Brandy was forced to quit her job in mid-2012 due to complications caused by spinal stenosis and a blood condition.
“We have no medical insurance, so I have to pay all of my medical bills and that impacts what we can spend on the kids,” Brandi said. “I spent $300 in the past week just on doctors visits and I had to go for emergency treatment the other day and had to pay cash out of pocket there, so that really impacts what we have to spend on them.”
When her medical problems are coupled with the often uncertain nature of her husband’s work, Brandy said it can make for a stressful holiday season, especially when it comes to having enough money to buy presents for the couple’s four children ages 7 to 14.
“My husband does carpentry work, but that’s slowing down a lot now where it’s colder,” Brandy said. “If they have something to do outside and it rains or snows, they don’t work that day, so that hurts us right at the holiday season a lot.”
Brandy said she and her husband tried to get by on his salary alone at Christmas last year without seeking assistance for buying presents.
“I’ve been out of work for around a year and a half now,” Brandy said. “I didn’t sign up last year (for the Angel Tree or Rescue Fund), we just tried to make it with what we had.
“Last year was very tough, we were only able to get the kids one thing each,” she added. “My parents even chipped in on that for us to be able to get that for them.”
For the upcoming holidays, Brandy said she decided to avoid a similar scenario by signing up for the Angel Tree and Rescue Fund through the Salvation Army.
“It definitely takes some of the stress off knowing your kids will at least get something for Christmas,” she said. “The gift certificate really goes a long way, too. I always try to buy enough for all six of us. It does help stretch things out further with what little bit we have.
Brandy said her family’s only prior experience with the programs was in 2009, when her husband was out of work for an extended period after suffering severe burns to his face, neck, shoulders and arms.
The presents meant as much to her as they did the children, Brandy said.
“The one year we signed up for the Angel Tree and my kids’ names got picked I just cried,” Brandy said. “They would have had nothing that year, but they had a good Christmas. They had a bag full of toys, ... so it makes a world of difference knowing that somebody that doesn’t even know your children cares enough that they will pick a name and sponsor them that year and given them a Christmas when they wouldn’t have had anything.”
Brandy and her family are among the families that will be helped this year through the Times-News Rescue Fund.
Last year, generous readers provided about $60,000 to the Rescue Fund for food vouchers distributed to needy individuals and/or families across the six-county area. Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Times-News Rescue Fund at P.O. Box 479, Kingsport, TN 37662.