KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An event benefitting the McNabb Center
The Beth Haynes 12 Days of Christmas runs Dec. 1 through Dec. 12, and is a fun online auction that benefits children and families served by the McNabb Center! Every year, hundreds of local businesses donate unique items and experiences.
The money raised through the auction goes to help more than 2,300 children and families during the holiday season and throughout the year. It’s part of the McNabb Center’s Dear Santa program, and the need stretches across 30 counties in Tennessee and unfortunately is growing.
This year, giving is more important than ever with the pandemic recovery, job loss, high inflation rates, and the surging costs for food, gas and housing. Many families are forced to choose necessities over Christmas gifts.
10News anchor Beth Haynes tells us why she hosts the online opportunity every year.
I love the holidays, but why do I continue to host the 12 Days of Christmas online auction? The answer is simple. I grew up in an incredibly stable, loving home filled with faith and hope.
I believe every child deserves that. Unfortunately, it’s not the reality for thousands of children in our community.
This year especially, we are surrounded by need.
Substance abuse is rampant. Mental health challenges are at an all-time high, particularly among young people as is domestic violence and homelessness.
These are tough issues we face, but crisis is the McNabb Center’s specialty.
Over the course of my time doing the 12 Days of Christmas auction, many families have told me the McNabb Center is their lifeline.
While I’m thankful for this tremendous resource, I believe it’s on all of us to help. The 12 Days Auction is a perfect opportunity to do that.
I keep going over the number in my mind: 2,300. That’s the number of children and families you can help this Christmas.
For these kids, it’s much more than a toy. It’s about creating traditions and a happy memory.
All you have to do is shop online to make that happen.
I’m so grateful for your support and I can promise you, the families are too.
Over the course of these 12 days, we'll highlight some of these deserving families on WBIR Channel 10 and showcase some of the ways our East Tennessee community steps up and gives back.
Again, you can bid on nearly 250 unique items and experiences from December 1 through December 12.
If you don't want to bid, you can always CLICK HERE TO DONATE.
North Pole-Dear Santa Headquarters
Welcome to the North Pole- a holiday hub with lights, decorations and soon lots of presents.
Dozens of volunteers have transformed McNabb Center’s Administrative Building into the headquarters for the nonprofit’s Christmas operation.
Hundreds of businesses and organizations drop off gifts here for children who are sponsored thru Dear Santa’s Wish lists.
Caseworkers also help Santa shop for children who aren’t on a wish list but receive services from the McNabb Center.
“We have about 2,300 children served regionally,” said Amy Cattran with the McNabb Center. “We have about 900 kids sponsored thru wish lists and the remaining kids are served through the toy drive, holiday parties or other celebrations through their programs.”
The McNabb Center provides a number of resources to children and adults from mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, even veteran support.
Morristown Recovery House-Jail to Work Program
East Tennessee businesses serve as Dear Santa elves
Around 500 businesses support McNabb’s Dear Santa Christmas mission including Discovery.
Employees there make sure hundreds of children across 30 counties have presents under their tree.
Nearly every department at Discovery begins adopting children through McNabb Center’s Dear Santa wish lists in November.
Last year, employees purchased toys and clothes for more than 200 children. Before the pandemic, employees used to wrap the gifts, too.
Discovery also sponsors the North Pole which is headquarters for the Dear Santa operation.
“You can't help but have your heartstrings pulled by these lists and these kids because you know, it's not just a piece of paper, there are actually human beings behind that,” said Maria Down with Discovery. ”We hear from our employees that this is their favorite time of year, their favorite thing that they get to be a part of. I don't think it can ever go away. I think we would have a riot from our employees.”
Discovery employs more than a thousand people in the Knoxville area and hopes to fulfill even more wish lists this year.
Santa and Mrs. Claus visit McNabb's domestic violence shelter
The McNabb Center’s “Dear Santa” operation isn't possible without Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Each Christmas, they pause from toys and list checking to bring holiday joy to families living in the McNabb Center's domestic violence shelter.
However, the visits are often heartbreaking. Mrs. Claus will never forget their first time at the shelter.
“The kids tugged at your heartstrings, but the women did, too. There were women there who felt no self-worth or had hope,” said Mrs. Claus. “There were black eyes, there were tears. The women couldn’t provide for their children for Christmas. So, the shelter was a blessing, but still, it wasn't like being in your home with your family, enjoying the holidays."
Mrs. Claus said they enjoy visiting the shelter more than a mall or retail shop because of the lasting impact.
Unfortunately, Santa and Mrs. Claus won't be able to visit the domestic shelter again this Christmas because of the pandemic, but they send heartfelt love and hopeful blessings.
Dear Santa shopping
Santa’s elves created a shopping frenzy at the Target in Turkey Creek on Tuesday morning, Dec. 7.
More than 50 volunteers spent hours helping Santa check off wish lists of more than 250 children who are sponsored through the Dear Santa program this year.
It's the McNabb Center's biggest shopping day for its Christmas operation which serves 2,300 children and families during the holidays as well as emergent care.
“It’s really great that the money we’re raising through this auction is making all of this possible,” said Rebecca McKnight, Assistant Director of Development and Foundation Marketing at the McNabb Center. “We’re thankful for our sponsors, but more importantly, we’re so glad to be able to provide Christmas and holiday traditions to children and families that may be experiencing a difficult time this season.”
Target hosts the Dear Santa shopping every year.
Volunteers from First Utility, KUB and Discovery packed and loaded the gifts from the store to a U-Haul.
The items will be wrapped and delivered by elves just in time for Christmas.
Single mom gets second chance thanks to McNabb Center’s Great Starts Program
“I’m just trying to always do the next right thing.”
Vanessa Payne is breaking the cycle and starting over. The McNabb Center has given her a second chance to live a drug free life and be the mother her children need her to be.
“I’m looking forward to Christmas this year with all of my girls.”
What a difference a year has made for Vanessa Payne.
“This time last year, my two oldest daughters were in foster care.”
And, Vanessa, was stepping out of rock bottom.
“I actually started using with my father, about 12 years old.”
Decades of substance abuse finally caught up with her. She was 19, four months pregnant and addicted.
“And, I thank God every day for getting caught.”
Vanessa spent two months in jail.
“That's how I did my detox, pregnant on the concrete floor of a jail cell. I felt like crap for about two weeks.”
When she got out, the McNabb Center was waiting with a second chance.
“My youngest daughter was only nine days old and I was just trying to stay clean and stay in recovery.”
Vanessa left her hometown and moved to Great Starts in Knoxville.
“It was a new city. It was a new place with a lot of strangers and a new baby. And yeah, it was, it was a scary situation.”
Great Starts is the McNabb Center’s recovery housing program for mothers and children with intensive onsite treatment.
“I'd already lost custody of my oldest two, so it was just very important to me that I didn't make the same mistakes with Remi as I did with them.”
She arrived just days before Christmas.
“And, then next thing I know, they're bringing in baskets full of Christmas presents for my baby. It just made my heart really happy.”
Vanessa recently graduated from the Great Starts program and is in her own apartment.
“I'm about to be 16 months sober.”
And, she’s working with Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services to regain full custody of her older daughters.
“Things are definitely looking a lot more hopeful than they were last year.”
Vanessa is participating in McNabb Center’s outpatient program.
“And, we're going to live happily ever after because mommy is sober.”
You’re giving someone a second chance by bidding or donating to our 12 Days of Christmas online auction.
‘Dear Santa' Toy Drive
Santa’s elves are hard at work at the McNabb Center’s North Pole.
Trey Edwards is one of dozens of case workers with the nonprofit shopping for kids at the ‘Dear Santa’ headquarters.
He’s picking out gifts for several children who aren’t sponsored through wish lists this year.
It’s part of the ‘Dear Santa’ toy drive, and its Trey’s second year making sure kids who need extra support have it this Christmas.
“Actually, a lot of the kids that I work with are lower income, so they rarely get gifts like this apart from a birthday,” said Edwards, a case worker with the McNabb Center. “When you bring these gifts it’s really emotional and it’s truly a great feeling when you see that smile on their face.”
The ‘Dear Santa’ program provides Christmas for more than 1,500 children through the toy drive and wish lists.