Santa Donations for Gatlinburg

For the past week, there has been a lot of focus on Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Many of us have visited Gatlinburg over the years and enjoyed the mountains and everything they offer.  This past summer I took my family to the Smoky Mountains to show them things my parents introduced me to and to enjoy the time together. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have so many memories for many people, it is as if it has this hold on you and makes you come back year after year.  The low clouds give the mountains the feeling of having smoke hanging over them.

Smoke was hanging over them the week of November  28th as several fires were started, and the 70 mile an hour winds pushed the embers over the Smoky Mountains.  Homes were lost, resorts were burned to the ground, and people were trapped in hotels at the top of the mountains.  There were over 2000 evacuated to safer places in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.  The news covered the fires and followed families who were looking for their loved ones for days, to later find out they didn’t make it out of their homes.

Dolly Parton grew up in Sevier County, and she took it upon herself to start several fundraising efforts to help those who lost their homes and their lively hood.  The town mayor not only lost his house, but he lost his business as well.  Hundreds of people are now unemployed due to resorts burning down, businesses lost and hotels were lost to the fire.  Dolly’s foundation has set up a fund to help the residents of Sevier County get back on their feet.

People and companies from all over the United States are sending in food, water, Gatorade, clothing, toys, pet food, and other miscellaneous items for those that need to replace their possessions.  One of the local news stations said they need canned meat and things they can make meals. There have been all kinds of protein bars, breakfast bars and such sent to the volunteer fire department, but they need things to make meals with.

This morning they announced they were in need of new books and toys for the children to have a Christmas.  The items are to be sent to the Sevier County Volunteer Rescue  Department, and they will have the parents come in and pick out what they need.  I called my publisher and asked if I could send 20 books, Galon the Northern Pintail Duck, down so the kids would have something more from Santa on Christmas morning.  The answer was yes.  I knew he had a big heart and I knew it was something I wanted to do.   I am also sending a hard copy of the book so they can donate it to the local library for the kids to read.

The hardest part of a disaster such as this is the kids.  They don’t understand why they don’t have their toys anymore, or why they have to sleep on a cot at the fire department instead of in their bed.  Kids are resilient, but in times like this your heart goes out to them, and you just want to tell them it is going to be okay.

Pam Egbert

 

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Pay It Forward

I was just on my Facebook page, and a friend posted a story telling of her trip to McDonalds today.  She was in line, and she decided to take a leap of faith and pay for the order behind her.  She had no idea what the total was going to be, just that she wanted to Pay It Forward for someone.  The total for the order was only $1.07, but she had no idea if that was the only money the person had or if they had already eaten breakfast and just made a drink stop.  She felt good because she knew it gave the person a smile.

This time of year we tend to reach out and touch people more than any other time of the year.  Christmas is about giving and seeing the excitement on a person’s face when they open the present or see the surprise.

I tend to get excited about purchasing special gifts for people at Christmas time.  The family is fun to shop for when you don’t worry about if it is on their Christmas list.  LOL   One year I did a pajama party for my kids.  Everyone received new slippers, pajamas or men’s jammy pants, and socks.  Most people get so caught up in their normal day life they don’t go out and purchase new pajamas for themselves.  The slippers were the nicer ones with the rubber soles on them.  I know many people slide their slippers on to go out to let the dogs out or get their mail.  The kids were excited because I made them open those gifts before anything else and they changed to be more comfortable during the day.

Pay It Forward has been given to me several times at McDonalds and other fast food restaurants.  I have surprised my friends when I snatched their bill out of their hand to pay for their meal, at lunch meetings.  They do it for me as well so we take turns Paying It Forward.

One day I was at Hobby Lobby with my mom, and there was a young girl behind me who was purchasing things for her wedding.  Her mom was trying to pay for some of it, and the girl told her mom she wanted to do it herself.  I could see they were on a limited income and I watched as she was counting everything she had in her cart to see if she had enough money.  I handed the cashier my phone and told her to use the 40 percent off coupon for this young lady’s order.  The cashier smiled and said she would be glad to.  The young girl smiled and said thank you, with tears in her eyes.   All the items were from the wedding section, and I guessed she would get 40 percent off the entire cart of goods.   My mom asked me what I did, and I told her, she didn’t get the smartphone concept and instant coupons lol.

Those few minutes in my life was a time I have never forgotten.  Each year I find one person I do something special for.  One year I sent McDonald’s coupons to a couple in Texas.   I knew they were on a fixed income and didn’t get to go out much.  She called me several weeks later and told me they went to McDonalds for a date night.  Lura and Arthur ordered two hamburgers, a large fries, and two glasses of water.  I knew she loved her Coke and I asked why they didn’t get their own fries and pop.  She told me if they watched what they spent with the coupons they could go out several times.  They are a proud couple and would never take money from anyone.  Several years later they were struggling with paying for his heart meds, and I sent them a Walmart card so they could purchase some ham, potatoes and the chocolate cake she kept telling me one day she would be able to afford, a treat for the both of them.  She called crying because I had given them enough to purchase their Christmas dinner.

We get so caught up in our own worlds sometimes we don’t listen to our friends and neighbors and miss the little things, like the fact they had not been out on a date night for many years or the cost of the heart medicine was going to keep them from purchasing a Christmas dinner. All these gifts didn’t cost me more than $25.  I was laid off at the time, but I had food on the table and I could afford to give something to them to make their Christmas happier.

Paying It Forward does not have to be monetary.  You can help someone sweep off their sidewalks, shovel their sidewalk, or take them to the store to do some shopping.  You can be a secret “Pay It Forward” and put a basket of fruit on their porch or send them a gift card and don’t put your name on the card.  If you are an artist, you could draw/paint a picture of their favorite pet or take pictures of their house/pet/children with your camera and give it to them for Christmas.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and Pay it Forward today.  Let that person waiting to get into traffic out, smile and wave at them.  🙂

 

Pam Egbert

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