Every December, the winter holidays breathe new life into the spirit of giving. At the Helen Ross McNabb Center in downtown Knoxville, the giving will continue with "Christmas forthe Children" and Beth Haynes' "12 Days of Christmas."
The McNabb Center is a community mental health agency that provides mental healthcare, addiction treatment and social services to around 12,000 children,adults and families in East Tennessee.
"The 'Christmas for the Children' program is a program that allows us to help childrenaround the holidays that we serve that are in need," said Emily Scheuneman, thePublic Relations Coordinator for the McNabb Center.
"Ourstaff identifies children that are in need and then work with them to come upwith a wish list, and then individuals from the community will be partneredwith (the kids) and they'll go and shop for them. They go and get presents for (thekids) and then bring them (to) us and our staff will help distribute those," Scheunemansaid.
Beth Haynes' "12 Days of Christmas" supports the "Christmas for the Children" program. Haynes is the co-anchor for WBIR's "Live at Five at Four," and the anchor for "Ten News at Five." Over 60 businesses are sponsoring the auction.
"(The auction) is online from Dec 1 through 12. All the items align with the 12 days of Christmas ... (For example), for ten lords a leaping we have UT men's basketball tickets, because there are ten guys on the court ... everything we raise through the auction benefits the 'Christmas for the Children' program," Scheuneman said.
Kristen Bradley, the early intervention and prevention services coordinator at the McNabb Center, said that one of her favorite parts of "Christmas for the Children" is when Santa comes to visit the children in the therapeutic preschool program."We pick one gift that, when Santa comes and sees the kids at the program, (that) he actually gives (to the children). ... Most of our kids, when they come to our program, are aware it's Christmas just because of what's going on society-wise, but they don't know if they are going to have Christmas," Bradley said. "So when they see (Santa) ... (it's) a sense of excitement that it's really happening and that (they) get to have Christmas this year."
For community relations specialist Rebecca McKnight, knowing the end goal is what makes the tedious paperwork worth it.
"It's very fulfilling ... going through the paperwork and matching up people and finding sponsors. ... It's very fulfilling to know what the end goal is, and that kids are going to have presents and they're going to be excited," she said.
Bradley added that the most rewarding part for her is helping the children's parents.
"It is a very touching feeling to see when you're able to help that parent be able to give their child Christmas. That's probably even more rewarding at times," she said.
Scheuneman enjoys the community involvement most of all.
"Our mission is improving the lives of the people we serve and usually that's through some ... support services. (I love) to be able to go above and beyond and involve the community and allow them to be involved in our mission," Scheuneman said.
If any UT student or UT organization would like to sponsor a child, or sponsor multiple children, more information can be found by contacting Rebecca McKnight at email@example.com. The "Christmas for the Children" event runs throughout the month of December.