KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Saturday, Dec. 5, would have marked the 23rd anniversary of Weigel’s Family Christmas, an event that normally brings in more than 200 local children and over 300 volunteers for a Christmas shopping spree.
But this year, the company says it is celebrating differently because of COVID-19.
“This has been a very special and meaningful event since we started it over 20 years ago” said Kurt Weigel, training and recruiting director, in a news release. “Our volunteers are often entire families, coming together to give back to our community. We’re disappointed we cannot have the traditional event, but our volunteers and children’s health and safety are the priority. We were not going to let the Pandemic “Grinch” steal the joy from these children, so we decided to send each child that would have shopped with us a gift card so that they can still have the gifts they would have selected during our special day. We are grateful this was an option to ensure the joy for the children.”
Each year, the Salvation Army selects children while Weigel’s organizes the event and provides funding. Since the program’s start in 1998, it has impacted more than 4,200 children.
With the help of the Salvation Army selecting the children, Weigel’s will send out $150 Target gift cards to more than 200 local children; ranging in age from five to eight years old.. This annual event was created to bring joy and make dreams come true to underprivileged children from Knoxville and the surrounding areas.
“I will miss this special day, seeing all the children and getting to shop with them” said Ann Paul, a Weigel’s volunteer for more than 15 years. “But I am sure Weigel’s thought long and hard about how to still give these children a Christmas they might not otherwise have, plus keep everyone safe. I am so glad to know that they will be receiving gift cards to make their dreams come true.”
“Amidst this global pandemic, we felt it more important than ever to bring joy to the children”; said Bill Weigel, chairman. “This December will be different, and though we’ll miss the smiles and tears of joy, and it truly makes our holiday season to know we have made a difference as much as we help make theirs.”