Howard Reynolds and Lynda Hooker prep for the sixth annual Christmas benefit dinner that will be held Saturday in Blountville. Photo by David Grace.
BLOUNTVILLE — A unique benefit dinner for needy families will take place this Saturday.
What makes this benefit dinner so unique is it’s hosted by a group of family and friends. There is no set charge for the dinner, only donations are accepted. And every single penny raised will be spent on needy families for Christmas.
“We’re not a rich family, we’re just blessed,” said Howard Reynolds, spokesman for the event. “We just try and help out the community.”
The sixth annual Christmas benefit dinner will be held on Saturday at 4535 Highway 11-W, Blountville, Tenn.
The dinner will feature homemade barbecue with all the fixings. Reynolds was beginning preparation of the meat on Thursday.
The cooking will start today. Reynolds said he and a few friends would probably be up all night preparing the barbeque. He has even borrowed an RV so the cooks can snatch a few hours of sleep while slow cooking the meat.
On Saturday, the food will be served from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Reynolds said the food costs nothing, but donations are welcome.
“We’re not going to be looking at who donates what,” he said. “There will be a box sitting there and we’ll check it about every hour.”
After dinner is served, the band Ivy Road will take the stage at 7 p.m. and play until 10 p.m. Reynolds said Ivy Road is donating their time so every dollar donated can go to a family in need.
Along with the dinner, a silent auction will also take place. All the items in the auction were donated from local businesses and all the proceeds from the items go directly to helping a needy family.
Raffle tickets will also be sold for the chance to win a 42-inch flat screen television.
The benefit dinner started during the Christmas of 2008 when a friend of Reynolds suggested doing something for the community. Reynolds and his family quickly jumped on board to help.
He said the first dinner they raised maybe $1,200. Every year the benefit dinner seems to get bigger. Last year, the dinner fed around 280 people and raised $9,100. Over five years, organizers of the event have raised $50,000 for the community.
Reynolds wants to keep getting more money for families. So he said if they are able to raise $10,000, he will shave his head on stage.
Once all the donations have been collected, the shopping starts. Reynolds said the people who do the dinner learn about needy families from their friends.
Once they learn what a person needs, they go shopping. Reynolds said they try to personalize the shopping as much as they can. They always try to pick out a coat and a brand new outfit for children, along with toys of course.
He said young children are the easiest to shop for. He usually gets the teenagers and he said that can make it a little more challenging to find the kind of things they like.
He said some of the benefit money can also be used to help out families with an electric bill they’re having trouble paying or another bill they’re struggling with.
He said he usually goes and gets a cashier’s check to pay the bill.
Reynolds said the giving spirit comes from his father, who passed away in 2005.
He said this dinner reflects how he was raised.
“It’s our Christmas,” he said. “It’s a blessing. We weren’t raised any different.”