GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Hundreds of Sumner County residents are preparing to adopt veterans at the Sumner County Veterans Home for Christmas or volunteer at the 10th annual Santa's Forgotten Heroes event on December 18.
Founding member Anita Williams explained the outreach started in 2011 because "[we] just wanted to reach out to the community that we were a part of up there and make a difference."
A decade later, with the help of hundreds in Sumner County, the event sponsors dozens of veterans to ensure they feel loved on Christmas.
"[One year] we had one veteran that he didn't want anything for himself. He just wanted to be able to provide Christmas presents for his grandchildren," said Williams. "So the family that sponsored him that year, did exactly that."
What started as a simple visit and gift from Santa a decade ago turned into a growing community.
"If the veteran is still in the home the following year, we give them the opportunity to sponsor the same veteran. So some of these folks have built relationships for two, three years now where they go in and they meet with the same veteran every year on the event and they're able to build those relationships we originally started," said Williams.
The event on December 18 will include Christmas carols played by the Gallatin High School Band.
To purchase items on the Veterans' wish list, click here.
"You can purchase the items they get shipped directly to my house," Williams explained about Amazon wishlist. "Then we take them up and we sort them, we box them and we distribute them on the day of the event. So anybody that would like to help out that way we would be more than appreciative of."
The Santa's Forgotten Heroes event is open to the public for all who want to thank a veteran for Christmas. Volunteers are invited at 9:15 a.m., the event is set to begin at 10 a.m. and lunch prepared by a local church will be served around noon.