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Christmas event brings 250 low-income children to Target for $150 shopping spree

The event marked the 24th anniversary of Weigel's Family Christmas, bringing children on a shopping spree so they could get anything they want for Christmas.
Credit: Jerry Owens

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Many children across Knoxville and the U.S. may not be sure if they will get gifts for Christmas. Their families may simply not make enough money for traditional gift-giving, a holiday dinner and a Christmas tree.

So, an event organized by Weigel's tries made sure 250 children in East Tennessee had a chance to get whatever they wanted for Christmas. It was the 24th Weigel's Family Christmas.

As part of the event, children from 5 - 8 years old receive $150 they can spend on a shopping spree at a Knoxville Target. The Salvation Army helps select children from East Tennessee communities, according to officials.

The event starts in 1998 and since then, more than 4,4000 children have had the chance to get Christmas gifts. Last year's event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"You can imagine, a 5 to 8-year-old with $150 to do something jus that they want to do. I mean, that's never happened before in their whole lives. Probably won't happen again for a long time, so it's an exciting thing" said Bill Weigel, founder of Weigel's. "And then they will get something for their mother. A 5 to 8-year-old with $150, and they get something for their mother or daddy or brother — that breaks your heart."

Before the shopping spree, volunteers prepared a free breakfast for the children at the Knoxville Expo Center. Many also stayed back to prepare lunch for when they returned from Target, while others went ahead to help children through the store and find whatever they wanted to buy.