PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) – As families impacted by the Gatlinburg wildfire wait in line for financial help through the My People Fund, a big-box retailer is helping those with children this Christmas.
Families who qualify for assistance from the My People Fund are able to pick up donated toys for their children. Blocks, baby dolls – anything a little boy or girl could ever dream of opening on Christmas day – were laid out waiting to be picked up.
“This is truly a blessing. I couldn’t ask for more,” said mother-of-two Ashley Kilby.
Family after family, just like the Kilbys, came into a Christmas Center at LeConte in Pigeon Forge. They were able to pick out gifts for their little ones, all of it at no cost.
“Were we going to get to do Christmas with our kids this year? Were they going to get anything from us? Anything at all?” asked Kilby.
“We realize that today they’re coming to get their checks from Dolly, the $1,000 they’re giving out which is beautiful and wonderful. But instead of having to spend that money on Christmas toys, we thought they could spend that money on things they need and come over here and shop,” said Denine Torr with Dollar General.
The Kilby family lost everything in the wildfire but being here means everything.
“We just talked to my son and daughter to see what they wanted for Christmas. The one thing big thing he wanted was a wooden train set, and they had it here. We were just looking online at how expensive it was. We didn’t know if we could afford it or not. They had it. They had exactly what he wanted.”
This kind of generosity is possible because of Dollar General and their partnership with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
“I have never been to a community where I thought they were so tight, so kind, and so loving and even in the middle of chaos. Beauty has shined and that’s a great feeling to give and share like that,” said Torr.
The Kilby family knows this Christmas will be unlike any other.
“It’s going to be way more than happy, that plus more for us. A lot of it is going to be us celebrating what we have, and that’s our family and that’s all we need.”
The Christmas center will be open next Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. People are asked to bring their check stub from the My People Fund and they’ll be able to receive help. Families also received a $100 gift card from the store to help them continue rebuilding.