The Order of the Horse Award, which recognizes outstanding community service in Sumner County, Tennessee, breaks tradition by honoring an organization for the first time and presenting the award to Christmas For Kids.
The Order of the Horse Award is presented annually at the luncheon for the United Chambers. This year, with about 250 people in attendance, Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt presented the award to the non-profit organization, Christmas For Kids. Debbie Lamberson, President of this organization that essentially provided “Christmas for a Day” to over 400 children this past year, accepted the award on behalf of Christmas For Kids.
County Executive, Anthony Holt, calls the Order of the Horse award an “award for people who don’t expect an award.” It is intended for those that truly give from their heart and simply enjoy the rewards of giving to those in need. Debbie Lamberson, at the helm of Christmas For Kids, certainly exemplifies this principal. During the endless days of work leading up to the event as well as all of the planning that starts as early as January each year, Debbie’s only focus is the kids. When she speaks of exciting developments like the times when they can add more children to the program, her eyes light up like it’s Christmas every day for her and the small army of volunteers that make this program possible.
Christmas For Kids is in its 26th year of service to children and families in Sumner and Wilson Counties, communities just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The organization, which is self-sufficient, driven solely by monetary donations as well as the individuals and organizations that donate their time, provides a Wal-Mart shopping spree, holiday activities and lunch to hundreds of children each year. Tour buses are donated annually by country music artists as well as other celebrities from all over the country. The drivers donate their time and there is an annual bus decorating contest among the group. The children are picked up from their school and travel to a local church for lunch and entertainment from Santa and his ‘helpers.’ Following that, they are off to Wal-Mart in a caravan of buses that virtually shuts the roads down!
The crowd of volunteers that gather at Wal-Mart to wait for the children is quite impressive and every year the sight of the first bus never fails to bring loud cheers. It’s quite a sight to see and it reinforces the feeling that this day is about the children. They may not be the center of attention on all the other days of the year, but this day, they are the brightest of stars. Following the shopping spree, the local fire department helps load the toys into the buses, and the children return to their schools where their families pick them up and take them home, still chattering about their exciting day, while the dedicated volunteers clean up and try to stay awake long enough to get home and prepare for another year.
Although the behind the scenes preparation quietly moves along all year, we can all expect to hear the first jingling of Santa’s sleigh bells in September when the annual performers benefit concert is usually announced. The “Charlie Daniels and Friends” concert will be held November 23, 2009 at the Ryman Auditorium and is the main source of financial support for the organization. Additional support is provided when the buses gather before the big shopping day in mid-December and country music artists come out to see their fans and give the public an opportunity to tour the inside of a tour bus for a small donation. Christmas For Kids receives support from several local businesses as well as the media. Once again, 95.5 The Wolf will be their Radio Media Partner, and all Public Relations and Press will be handled by Webster & Associates.
For more information about Christmas For Kids or to learn more about volunteering for this great organization, please visit www.christmas4kids.org