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Knox Pride gives young unsheltered people joy during the holidays with Giving Tree program

The Giving Tree gives sponsors a chance to sponsor one of the hundreds of young people experiencing homelessness.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As the holidays approach, hundreds of young people in Knoxville may be wondering where they will sleep at night. Many of those people may not be looking forward to the holidays in the same way others are.

Knox Pride wanted to bring them some joy, so they started a Giving Tree program. The program functions similarly to an angel tree. Members of the community can browse some of the Christmas wishes from young people experiencing homelessness and make them come true.

They worked with the Knox County Community Action Committee on the program. This will be Knox Pride's second year organizing the Giving Tree program.

"We identify the kids that are in transitional homes, or in hotel rooms, and we offer to provide holiday gifts to them," said John Camp, the executive director of Knox Pride.

Those children's wishes are clipped onto the tree inside the Knox Pride Community Center. Anyone can stop by between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, to pick a wish off of the tree.

The name does not identify the person, but it does show what they're asking for. Several have asked for school equipment like laptops, and some also asked for coats or play mats.

Stop by this week Monday - Wednesday from 11am - 4pm to pick a name from our giving tree. We still have several. The Pride Shop is also open for your holiday shopping! #knoxpride

Posted by Knox Pride on Monday, November 21, 2022

The program started a few days ago, and Camp said some people have already dropped things off.

"We had a couple angels. There was a young child with a coat and play mat, and some shoes. And then this older child, I'm assuming was older, they wanted a queen-size bed and a couple of gift cards. So, we've fulfilled that," said Camp.

He said there are still 45 young people with a request attached to the tree, and more than half are members of the LGBTQ community.

"It's a trying time for our community. I think the holidays are always a trying time for a lot of marginalized communities," he said. "Spread a little bit more love and peace, instead of the hate that we're all experiencing right now."

The last day to drop off gifts is December 2.

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