Sharing the spirit

Giveaway brings Christmas to hundreds
Dec. 25, 2012 @ 12:01 AM

The Tabb Family ministry held its third annual Christmas giveaway at the Sevier County Fairgrounds Saturday, giving food, toys and spiritual service to more than 700 people.

The Good Tidings Christmas Giveaway for the Needy, organized by Sean Tabb, Clifford Veals and Rex McCarter, began with Tabb as The Mountain Santa Clause in eastern Kentucky. He brought the program to Sevier County in 2010 with the help of Veals and McCarter.

"We're just doing Christmas for the needy in Sevier County," Veals said.

The giveaway works on a ticket system. People come in, take a ticket, wait in line until their number is called, then go in the open area where heaps of toys were displayed on tables along the walls.

Snacks are offered for those waiting in line, as the number caller shouts numbers in quick succession into the loudspeaker.

All kinds of food, from canned goods to cookies, were offered, as well as toys, candy, clothing and 54 new bicycles, Veals said.

Items, as well as volunteers, came from all over the region. Toys and food were donated by individuals, businesses and churches. About 75 volunteers, including a youth group from Saxton, Ky., handed out toys and served food.

"We've got 35 volunteers from Kentucky, and we have volunteers from all over," Veals said.

Doors opened at 9:30 a.m., at which point hot beverages and snacks were handed out, and people could browse through coats and shoes.

A worship service began at 11 a.m., which included "at least an hour" of singing from the Tabb Family and others.

"We have a service and tell them about Jesus. Some of them get saved, and we let them have an opportunity to get saved," Veals said.

The giveaway began at noon, where those in line were given a bag and could walk throughout the area picking out toys they wanted for their children.

Whatever was not given away will be donated to the Sevier County Food Ministries.

rhargett@themountainpress.com