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Habitat family spending first Christmas in their own home

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Nov 25, 2017 at 11:28 PM

This will be the first Christmas Margaret Richardson and her children have spent in their new Johnson City home.

Margaret is disabled and her income is limited. She and her children are qualify for food stamps. But thanks to the local Holston Habitat for Humanity ministry, for the first time Margaret and her children are living in a home she owns and is paying for herself.

While their house is small, modest and still in need of a few loving touches, to Margaret it’s a palace, and she feels richly blessed to be there.

“I’ve come a long way,” she reflected. And where she is now is focused on taking care of her little family and on providing her children a good example to follow as they grow.

Smiling quite happily, she said, “It’s ‘borrow from Peter to pay Paul.’”

“It’s just me, having to provide everything. If they need medicine, clothes, shoes, Pull-ups, birthdays — and we have a birthday coming up. Just like any responsible parent, the kids come first.”

Still very young, Margaret’s children, like most their age, are anxiously “waiting for HoHo.”

A boy and a girl ages 3 and 5, they are into Disney’s Frozen Queen Elsa, Paw Patrol and trucks. And those are themes she is following to decorate their rooms.

She signed them up for Christmas gifts from the Salvation Army Angel Tree and for holiday food from the Johnson City Christmas Press Box with the thought that the extra help would allow her to buy bed sets for the children’s rooms.

The sister holiday projects served them well last year, and Margaret felt lighter knowing they will have that assistance again.

She treasures the picture she took of her excited children surrounded by the gifts they opened on Christmas morning last year. And she recalls the Christmas Box as a surprisingly good box of food and how appreciative she was to get it.

“Everybody loves canned goods,” she said, laughing. “Whatever it is, I am thankful for it.”

At final count, 2,052 children and more than 1,100 households in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties are registered for help from the Angel Tree and Christmas Box this year. In addition to those, several hundred area seniors in low-income senior housing developments in the three counties will also receive food assistance for the holiday from the Christmas Box.

For each household of three to seven people, the Christmas Box provides a large box of more than 40 canned and boxed food items, fresh potatoes and onions, and a festive meat — or all the makings of a holiday meal plus several additional meals for a family. For families of eight or more people, the Christmas Box provides two food boxes.

For seniors who live alone and small households of one or two people, the box provides a $35 grocery shopping gift certificate. And with that, the Christmas Box also provides 600 hams for families in Johnson and Unicoi county who are served by other nonprofit holiday food programs.

For those who wish to help provide food for Christmas food for each of those households, the Christmas Box is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and contributions are tax deductible. And because the Johnson City Press covers all the administrative costs of the project, 100 percent of all donations are used to purchase food.

Contributions to the Johnson City Press Christmas Box may be made online at jcpchristmasbox.com or by mail to P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN 37605.

More information about the Christmas Box can be found at the website and on the Johnson City Press Christmas Box page on Facebook, or may be obtained by calling Johnson City Press Operations Manager Ron Tipton at 929-3111, ext. 3302.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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