Dozens of East Tennessee children got an early Christmas gift Monday thanks to a former NFL star and Knoxville native.

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(WBIR) Dozens of East Tennessee children got an early Christmas gift Monday thanks to a former NFL star and Knoxville native.

Chad Pennington, who is a Webb School graduate, took 65 children from Helen Ross McNabb Center's residential programs on a shopping spree to Target, followed by a party at The Zone. Pennington and his wife, Robin, have donated gifts and parties during the holidays for the past several years as part of their "1st and 10 Foundation."

"Robin and I feel so blessed to have a great support group. The reason we are where we are today with our family and the experiences we've been able to have over the last dozen years is because of the strong support group, family and friends," said Chad Pennington. "We don't feel obligated, but feel so blessed that we want to give back and serve others. And part of our holiday party is about serving others and making sure they can have some of the experiences that we have been able to have."

The Penningtons created the foundation in 2003 to promote stronger communities by funding programs and institutions that improve the quality of life throughout East Tennessee, southern West Virginia, and Tri-State area.

Pennington played for the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins in the NFL.