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Thanks for Giving offers free clothing for the needy

Nick Shepherd • Nov 15, 2013 at 10:14 AM

KINGSPORT — ’Tis the season of giving and receiving, but many people in the region will go without during the holidays.

But one local woman started an event to help the needy during this time of year. The name of the event is Thanks for Giving, and this is the eighth year it will be held.

“We put the first one together in a week,” said Tammy Street, founder of Thanks for Giving. “That first year we only had 300 or 400 people. It has grown steadily every year since.”

Thanks for Giving collects donations from the community and gives the donations to the needy in the area for free. Thanks for Giving will be held on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Organizers are hoping that 1,500 to 2,000 people will show up at this year’s event, which is being held at the Kingsport Farmers Market at the corner of Center and Clinchfield streets. Street said the turnout the last few years has held steady at about 1,500 participants.

Preparations were under way Tuesday at the Farmers Market. Items were already organized into departments, and clothes were hanging on racks. Dozens of shoes were lined up in their respective sections, which included women’s, men’s and children’s.

Household items, including Tupperware and cutlery, had their own sections, along with the toys.

Children have their own special reason for wanting to attend Thanks for Giving. Every year, Santa brings them a new toy. And they also get to do some shopping for other people in their lives.

At the event, there will be a gift shop with new items inside. Only children will be allowed in the gift shop, and they can shop for any member of their family. Street said children’s faces light up when they pick out a special gift for Mommy or Daddy.

Street said the volunteers try to make the event fun for everyone who comes. There will be Christmas trees, live music, and drinks — among many other things.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Street said. “It’s a real happy day for all involved.”

The event is open to any family or individual in need. Street said organizers don’t check pay stubs or income.

Donations are still being accepted for Thanks for Giving. New or gently used items can be donated at the Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday.

Street will be preparing for the event most of the week. She usually takes a week off from her job, co-owner of Crosscountry Mortgage, to get everything ready for the event. She will work a lot of hours over the week, but she said it’s all worth it in the end.

“When we see a child’s face light up, it makes it all worthwhile,” she said. “It is the best Christmas present for me and for our volunteers.”

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