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Phil Campbell Christmas helps children

After the 2011 tornadoes brought devastation across Franklin County, Kristi Vandiver decided the community needed a program to help struggling families provide gifts for their children at Christmas.

Nine years later, Phil Campbell Christmas is continuing to grow with its continued passion for helping keep the holidays joyful for all children.

“It isn’t so much about giving the gifts as much as it is about giving the hope,” Vandiver said. “For a lot of these kids, they maybe thought they weren’t going to get anything on Christmas. We hope this shows them things are looking up.”

Vandiver said each year Phil Campbell Christmas looks for people to help by sponsoring kids or by donating, but this year has been harder than most because of the number of people struggling because of the pandemic.

“This year has been tough because a lot of families aren’t necessarily thinking about buying toys for Christmas as much as just paying bills,” Vandiver said.

This year Phil Campbell Christmas is helping 75 children in the Phil Campbell area or with ties to Phil Campbell. Vandiver said the program is accepting donations of new or gently used toys and clothes for newborns through age 17.

This year, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all donated items are being sprayed down and quarantined before being handed out to families.

Items can be dropped off at Yogi’s in Spruce Pine or at the Phil Campbell Thrift Store. There is also a Paypal for those wanting to send monetary donations and an Amazon Wishlist for anyone wanting a list of specific items to purchase.

“There really is no donation that is too small because it all adds up together,” Vandiver said. “Even if someone goes to the dollar store and spends $2 on a small item, we will put it with other items to send it to a child who will appreciate it.”

Vandiver said the most enjoyable part of being involved with the program each year is getting to see the pictures of children’s reaction when they receive their gifts on Christmas. “It really is so heartwarming to be able to give back,” she said.

Vandiver said there a large group helps put together the packages filled with love to send to children each year, and Phil Campbell Christmas would not be possible without the help of everyone involved.

For more information on Phil Campbell Christmas or to donate, visit www.facebook.com/PhilCampbellChristmas.