Rotarians help Santa with gifts for kids

Tom KingFarragut

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa is preparing for his stop in the morning at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to help make Christmas special for the young patients dealing with an array of health issues.


When the kids awaken, a bundle of Christmas gifts will be in special holiday bags left at the foot of their beds. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

For the first time, the Rotary Club of Farragut’s 2020 Christmas project was a toy donation drive for the kids at ETCH. The club’s initial goal was to collect 152 new toys so each patient would have at least one toy. The hospital has 152 beds. Little did we know that the Farragut Rotarians would end up donating 355 new toys.

“Oh my gosh, what you all have done for us is incredible,” says Cheryl Allmon, ETCH’s director of community services. “These are great gifts you’ve donated for our kids and their families. We have families who without this would have no Christmas for their kids.”

Last week Rotarian Scott Bertini, who led this project, and a group delivered the toys to the hospital. With him were club president Ed Jones, members Meghan Belcher, Jim O’Brien and two members of the Hardin Valley Academy Interact Club, Lauren Phillips and Riley Speas. The HVA Interact Club members sewed the special bags for the toys and also donated to the toy drive.

Allmon says that toys not used on Christmas morning will be shared with ETCH patients in home health care, those going through physical therapy or those who are part of the hospital’s Adopt-A-Family program (as well as their siblings).

Farragut Rotary also had monetary donations to pass along to ETCH.

  • $1,450 has been donated to ETCH and this donation will be matched 2:1 by Salsarita’s (i.e., $2,900) in food gift coupons for the ETCH “Adopt a Family” program!
  • $2,300 from Blue Ridge Realty Inc. — Club PP Dan Barnett and his partner Louise Frazier. We received another $300 check from Blue Ridge Realty Inc.

Great project and great leadership from Scott.

To explore membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, email Tom King here or call 865-659-3562. Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.

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