Members of the Johnson City Press Christmas Box board of directors have gone over the final numbers and confirmed the 2012 holiday food distribution was among the largest in the project’s 32-year history.
Including a $1,400 gift from Food City’s in-store Food for All holiday food drive, total monetary contributions to the Christmas Box came in at $59,610, compared to $59,802 donated in 2011.
Along with in-kind gifts from corporate and community organizations that support the project annually, the monetary donations allowed the Christmas Box to provide 1,148 food boxes with turkeys and hams and 780 food shopping gift certificates to 1,919 households in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties, and 624 hams to Unicoi and Johnson County residents included in other charitable food distributions.
Household registration data compiled by the Salvation Army shows 5,899 individuals were served by the Christmas Box in the three-county area. With the additional hams distributed in Johnson and Unicoi counties, the number of individuals served was more than 6,500.
In 2011, the Christmas Box provided 1,160 food boxes and 824 food shopping gift certificates to a record 1,984 households in the three-county area and an additional 632 hams for families in Johnson and Unicoi counties.
Board member Tom Krieger estimated the retail value of last year’s food boxes at $85 and credited assistance from Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee for the project’s ability to provide that value. Each of the food boxes included 33 boxed and canned goods, 10 pounds of potatoes, 3 pounds of onions, a 15-pound turkey and a 4-pound ham.
With increases in food costs for items purchased directly at discounted prices from area retailers, total expenditures for food hit a record $69,818 in 2012, compared to $54,180 in 2011.
Board President Art Powers said both contributions and expenditures came in better than the board expected and provided a better than anticipated foundation for the 2013 distribution.
Ron Tipton, operations manager for the Johnson City Press, credited the project’s volunteers, the Washington County Detention Center work crew, the Appalachian Fair staff and President Phil Booher and Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies for the success of the food boxes’ assembly and distribution. “We could not do it without them,” Tipton said.
As for the Angel Tree project, Johnson City Salvation Army Capts. Nick and Fallyn Garrison reported 2,707 children were served in 2012, compared to 2,709 children in 2011.
While all Angel Tree children have been adopted by holiday shoppers for the past two years, about 200 of the children’s gifts were not turned in for distribution last year, compared to only about a dozen children whose gifts were not turned in 2011. The Salvation Army purchased gifts for the forgotten Angel Tree children at a cost of about $15,000. The estimated total value of the 2012 Angel Tree gifts was $407,000.
The Garrisons reported donations to the local Salvation Army Red Kettle drive fell about $15,000 short of the total donated in 2011, but because of a one-time gift of $10,000 received in 2011, the decline in kettle contributions was actually $5,000. Nationally, donations to the Salvation Army kettles hit a record high in 2012.
In addition to the food bank, the Appalachian Fair, Food City, Detention Center workers and Sheriff’s Office employees, key contributors to the Christmas Box included Moody-Dunbar, Mountain Empire Oil, International Paper Co. and the National Guard.
Powers, Krieger and Tipton repeated their appreciation for the support of all the project’s contributors. The board members also gave special recognition to accountant Jane Rodifer, who stepped down as Christmas Box treasurer this year and was elected to serve on the board of directors in 2013. In her years as treasurer, Powers said Rodifer worked diligently to assist thousands of people in need of food at Christmas.
Powers was elected to continue as board president in 2013. Bart Shelton was appointed to serve as the Christmas Box treasurer and attorney Steve Fox was reappointed board secretary. In addition to Krieger, Rodifer and Tipton, the 2013 Christmas Box directors are Johnson City Press Publisher Justin Wilcox and Martha Laws of Carter County.