“Just when you think it can’t get any worse, or when you think someone can’t go through anymore, you’ll sit down with someone who is dealing with unimaginable challenges. Each family we serve has a story and each one needs help,” May said.
One family seeking assistance this year, for example, includes a woman dealing with her own serious medical issues who faces even more of a struggle because a child in the family has developed juvenile diabetes. “It’s as if every time they start to move forward, things just keep knocking them down,” May said.
Yet, for all the hardship she sees as families seek assistance to put food on the table or provide for their children at Christmastime, May is inspired by the countless others who extend “hands of hope.”
The Times News is fortunate to count its readers among those who generously join that effort each year by contributing to the Rescue Fund. Together, the Times News Rescue Fund and Salvation Army of Kingsport are working to bring help to the region’s neediest families this season. That effort begins anew today, and no gift is too small.
“It is our privilege to conduct the Rescue Fund, but it is our readers who make it possible,” said Times News Publisher Rick Thomason.
“Each year their generosity helps brighten Christmas for some of the neediest families in the region. Their support of the Rescue Fund provides food for these families, and more importantly, shows them someone cares.”
FEEDING THE HUNGRY
The Times News Rescue Fund aims to put a little extra food on the holiday tables of some of the region’s less fortunate families. In coming weeks, stories will chronicle some of their struggles.
“Even with the improved economy, there are still thousands of our neighbors across the region who are doing without some basic necessities,” said Times News Content Director Stephanie McClellan.
“The need continues,” says May. “If you’ve never lived in poverty, or experienced true need, it’s hard to understand that it can sometimes take years to recover. I’m old-fashioned and I’m all about hard work, but it’s not easy out there... Nowadays, there are so many more barriers.”
The Salvation Army works to address those barriers year-round, but the Christmas season — with its feeding program and Rescue Fund partnership, Red Kettle Campaign and Angel Tree program — is vital to the corps’ mission to “meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Tax-deductible donations to the Rescue Fund are used to provide food and grocery gift cards for families in Lee, Scott and Wise counties in Virginia and the Salvation Army’s service area of Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee.
“We use the Rescue Fund money to fund our holiday feeding program — in the form of gift cards or food boxes at either Thanksgiving or Christmas,” May explained.
MAKING ENDS MEET
For those in need, the holidays are filled with tough choices.
“It still overwhelms me to see the number of grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and even family friends who have taken on caring for other people’s children, even though they barely have enough for their own,” said May, now in her third Christmas in Kingsport. “Some of them are barely making ends meet themselves, but they’re stepping up and finding ways to make what they have go further.”
People who contribute to Rescue Fund help the Salvation Army do the same thing.
“Here in Kingsport, all of our holiday food needs are taken care of each year because of the generosity of those who contribute to the Rescue Fund,” May said. “In other Salvation Armies where I’ve been, our money would have to buy toys and food at Christmastime, which meant it didn’t stretch as far.”
For struggling families, a holiday meal box or grocery gift card is more than just food on the table. It’s money that can be redirected to keeping the heat or the lights on, or to paying other bills, May said. It’s light in the darkness; grace that may sometimes elude them.
The main goal of the Times News Rescue Fund is to offer hope to those who are struggling during the holidays, McClellan said. As with any such program, however, the success depends on the charity and generosity of those who contribute.
“There are a lot of great causes worthy of our community support, and people need to give where their heart is because we are working together for the greater good. But if your heart is to make sure people are fed, the Rescue Fund is the way to go," May said.
The Times News hopes to raise $60,000 through the Rescue Fund this year.
“We didn’t make our goal last year, but we have high hopes that we will be able to reach that goal this year. We know how tremendously generous and caring our community and readers are. We know we can count on them to come through so that we can meet that goal,” McClellan said.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Times-News Rescue Fund, 701 Lynn Garden Dr., Kingsport, TN, 37660.