When an extended family member turned up with drug problems, their baby was taken into state custody, and Teresa was asked to give him a home.
“They asked and I stepped up,” she said. “They gave me custody. I’m his mom now. He’s mine,” she said quite proudly of the little one, who clung to her as she waited to register for help with his Christmas from the Salvation Army Angel Tree and Johnson City Press Christmas Box.
Not quite 1 year old, the baby had spent the previous weekend in the hospital with pneumonia and was still on antibiotics. He was quiet and clingy and Teresa was anxious to get him back home.
But she had come to the registration for good reason: “To have gifts under the tree for him. To have gifts for him to open on Christmas Day. And to see his little face light up,” she said.
Disabled with degenerative disc disease, Teresa’s income is not what it used to be. For her rent and utilities “it’s enough” she said. “But there will be nothing left for the holidays.”
When the volunteers at the registration tables ask her about his needs, she told me she listed things for his room, curtains and bedding. And his wish for a toy would be something from Paw Patrol.
And then there was their need for extra groceries at Christmas.
Teresa’s grown children “do pretty well,” she said. But they are just getting started in their adult lives and they still enjoy getting together for holiday meals at their mother’s.
Contemplating the extra groceries that go into those meals, Teresa said she could make good use of the grocery shopping gift certificate she and the baby would receive from the Christmas Box.
One of more than 1,000 Angel Tree families registered for help with food from the Johnson City Press Christmas Box, Teresa left the registration with the comfort of knowing her holiday table would be a little fuller.
Now in its 38th season, the Christmas Box provides all the makings of a Christmas dinner and several additional meals for a families of three or more people and $30 grocery shopping gift certificates for seniors who live along and small households of one or two people.
The food distribution is made possible entirely by monetary gifts from individuals, churches, businesses and clubs, grocers and food distributors who donate or discount their products for the Christmas Box, and assistance from key project partners, including Second Harvest Food Bank.
For those who wish to help with the distribution, the Christmas Box is a 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax deductible.
Because the Johnson City Press covers all administrative costs for the project, 100 percent of all donations are used to purchase food.
Donations 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 or at the Johnson City Press Christmas Box page on Facebook, or may be obtained by calling Press Staff Writer Sue Guinn Legg at 423-722-0538.