This is one of many scenarios that the Salvation Army of Kingsport encounters around Christmastime, according to Maj. Jayne May. Along with red kettle donations and Angel Tree adopters, the Times News Rescue Fund provides greatly needed assistance to help these families have a happier holiday season.
“If we did not have this partnership with the Rescue Fund, we would have to use the money that we raise in the kettles to also buy food (for our food boxes),” May said. “Because of our partnership, we can use more of the money that goes into the kettles to stretch further into the year. So we’re able to help someone with a light bill or to pay their rent later on down the line, maybe in March or April, because of this great partnership.”
Who receives aid?
May said the Salvation Army helps more nuclear families — a mother, a father and their children — than people probably realize.
“Usually mom and dad are both working and probably have enough each month, but don’t have enough for Christmas, extra holidays, vacations, anything like that,” May said. “So they come to the Salvation Army to help them with their Christmas.”
Another common family scenario is a single mother raising one or multiple children, May said. She added that there are more single fathers on the Angel Tree this year than ever before.
“Mom is nowhere in the picture; she’s probably sadly gotten involved with drugs,” May said. “A lot of our problems have to do with drugs in this area.”
Grandparents raising their grandchildren are also common in this area, May said, in most cases because the parents have been arrested for drug use. Still, some families don’t fit into any of these molds.
“I have two great-grandmothers raising their great-grandchildren,” May said. “This lady has come in — this is her third year — I watched her come in: She’s on a walker, hunched over, has all of her papers laid out, and she is raising her great-grandchild. She’s beyond living the retirement life, but she is strong and keeps on going.”
Other children are being raised by their aunts, uncles or family friends, including a great-aunt who is currently raising her great-niece, May said. The Salvation Army provides aid to these families through the Angel Tree and through food boxes and gift cards.
How does the Rescue Fund help?
May said the Rescue Fund helps the Salvation Army put together 300 food boxes for shut-ins or elderly people. The fund also helps purchase gift cards for 305 Angel Tree recipients in Kingsport, along with 415 in Scott County.
“It’s a beautiful thing to see how the community works through two agencies to help families to be fed, to have a happy holiday, and all of that just works together,” May said. “I just think this is a great collaboration that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”
How can you help?
Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Times News Rescue Fund, 701 Lynn Garden Drive, Kingsport, TN 37660. Donations can also be made online at https://rescuefund.timesnews.net.
“I’m just overwhelmed at the generosity of our community. I never feel like I can say ‘thank you’ enough, because I don’t get to look people in the eye, but it really does matter,” May said. “Even the smallest amount, even $10, matters because we combine that with somebody else’s $10 and somebody else’s $10. It all adds up, and people get fed and people get loved and people receive hope, which is our biggest message at the Salvation Army.”