KINGSPORT — 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, has reached 75 percent of its goal for this year’s campaign.
Times-News Managing Editor Ted Como, who heads up the Rescue Fund, said the effort’s main goal is to offer hope — demonstrating the region’s tradition of generosity toward others in times of need.
“As of Friday, the Rescue Fund had reached $46,304 toward our goal of $60,000, which is the total amount contributed last year,” Como said. “We’re hopeful that we can drive further toward that goal this week and next. Most of us will celebrate Christmas Wednesday with gifts and a good meal, but there are folks right here, where we live, who will count their blessings if they only have heat in the house. Most of us are fortunate to live a life far removed from real want, and if we can’t be thankful for what we have, at least we can be thankful for what we don’t have, such as disease or poverty.”
Over the past several weeks, the Times-News has shared the stories of some of the more than 2,000 families receiving food vouchers from the Rescue Fund this year.
Many of them trace financial struggle and hardship to medical problems and/or recent unemployment.
A Hawkins County couple and their 8-year-old son, for example, each have serious medical conditions, and with bills constantly piling up there wouldn’t be much of a Christmas for them this year without the Times-News Rescue Fund.
And a Lee County mom, like many others this Christmas season, continues a constant struggle just to make ends meet every month.
For her and others, December poses a special challenge.
Now in her mid-30s, “Sunny” is a single mother of three, ages 8, 6 and 9 months. That’s a handful in the best of circumstances, but especially challenging with $200 in monthly child support. Then, there are a brother and sister, ages 14 and 12, for whom Sunny serves as big sister with motherly responsibilities. Plus, there is Sunny’s own mother, who is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, the result of a debilitating non-cancerous growth on her spinal column. Sunny has been caring for her mother for about five years.
“The holiday season is a time of reflection, celebration and change,” Como said. “It’s a chance to improve the condition of ourselves and the world we live in, and one way to do that is to make a difference in the lives of very needy folks by contributing to the Rescue Fund. And while it’s still a little early for New Year’s resolutions, it’s not too early to resolve to share something of ourselves with others less fortunate, to help those who, because of circumstances often beyond their control, find themselves in want and in need. The best way we know of to make a difference at this time of year is through the Rescue Fund and similar programs that attempt to offer some hope to those who may have lost it.”
Como said the Times-News is delighted that for the past two years readers have contributed $60,000 to help needy families with groceries over the holidays, a record level of giving despite the fact that the cost of most everything has increased.
That has allowed the Salvation Army to assist even more of the region’s neediest families.
Every single penny donated to the Rescue Fund goes to give food vouchers to those in need. The Times-News assumes all overhead costs associated with the campaign.
Rescue Fund families are screened by social services departments in Wise and Lee counties in Virginia and by the Salvation Army in Scott County, Va., and Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee.
The number of families seeking assistance through the Rescue Fund has risen by several hundred in just the past couple of years. In 2008 the Rescue Fund served about 1,700 households. This year the number is about 2,300.
The dollar amount of food vouchers has typically ranged from $20 to $55, based on the size of the family.
Most families served by the Rescue Fund range from three to four members. Last year, a family of three received a voucher for $25, while a family of four got a voucher worth $30.
The figures will be pretty much the same this year.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Times-News Rescue Fund at P.O. Box 479, Kingsport, Tenn., 37662.