The Saturday before Christmas was a special day for more than 30 Blount County children after motivational speaker Tim Richardson organized a party just for them.
This was the second year Richardson has held a Christmas party for underprivileged boys and girls in Blount.
The idea for the event started in 2006 when Richardson and his son attended a similar party in Chicago. It was organized by the group Dreams for Kids and served 1,200 youngsters.
“In some cases, they were homeless or orphans or had severe physical and mental challenges,” Richardson said. “To watch the outpouring of concern and care and love for these kids and to see my son get into helping these kids, I realized we needed to help kids here.”
Richardson was asked in 2007 to hold a similar event in Tennessee and he brought it home to Maryville.
“In a short period of time we put together this event,” he said.
United Way agencies were contacted, as were other individuals in the community. “I touched base with George Williams with the City of Alcoa, and he helped us find some people so we had a cross-section of different people making contacts,” Richardson said.
Richardson said the ages of the children were from 2 to their early teens. “We had about 30 to 40 children,” he said.
“We had members from a First United Methodist Church Sunday School class who bought presents and Papa Johns pizza donated pizza for the event,” he said. “The folks at Preservation Plaza were awesome. They got some Blount County artists to help with decorating.”
Richardson said volunteers worked with the children on Christmas crafts and games, enjoyed cookies and a visit from Santa.
“Everyone left with a present and a goodie bag,” he said.
Richardson said his family has been active with the party the past two years and has enjoyed event because it helped those in need. “For that reason I think we’re going to work to do this each year,” he said.