A Virginia couple decided to forego their family Christmas this year because they saw greater need in Gatlinburg.
After seeing the devastation from recent wildfires, Beverly Luchard and her husband, Jason Markle, wanted to do something to help.
The couple knew all too well what surviving a fire is like because their home burned down in 2003.
"We understand what it's like to wake up and have absolutely nothing," Markle said.
Now that they are back on their feet, they decided to make a difference for children in Gatlinburg this Christmas.
"We told all of our family and friends that this is what we were going to do and they get no Christmas gifts, this is what their money was going to and they had no problem with it," Luchard explained.
With the help of their church, the couple was able to raise enough money to buy more than 1,000 teddy bears. They vacuumed packed them in storage bags, filled up their car and drove to Gatlinburg.
"If one of those bags had broken, I do believe it would have sprung our windows out or torn the roof off the truck. It was packed. We couldn't have got one more thing in that vehicle," Markle said with a laugh.
Once in Gatlinburg, the couple teamed up with a local non-profit, Emerald City Ministries. They were already conducting a three-day free toy drive and were happy to accept all the teddy bears.
“They are heroes,” Doc Waddell, founder of the ministry, said while describing Jason and Beverly.
“We have met so many heroes in this. People you don't expect that go out of their way just to help and make a smile on somebody's face.”
Families were able to pick up gifts at the ministry, located at 1019 East Parkway in Gatlinburg until 5 p.m. Christmas Eve night.
Once the holidays are over, Emerald City Ministries plans to expand into a free store and food pantry. They are currently looking for donations and volunteers. If you would like to help, visit their Go Fund Me page.