Volunteer Spirit: Lady Vols help deliver Christmas to Alzheimer's patients

WEST KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- Thompson Boling Arena is where you can find the Lady Vols Basketball team when it's game time, but at Christmas time they're out spreading Volunteer Spirit.

The Lady Vols entertained the folks at Shannondale Healthcare Center by singing carols and even Rocky Top. They and some of their coaches even mingled and shared stories.

One of the members of the Lady Vols, Taber Spani says, "It's a blessing for us to give back to the be out at assisted living home with Alzheimer's, especially with our connection the program has with Coach Summit. Honestly, as much as we try to give these amazing people and put a smile on their face, always feel we walk away and get more out of it."

Their visit is part of the Big Red Bow project through Alzheimer's Tennessee, making sure no one is forgotten during the holidays.

Jeff Jarnigan of B97.5 dressed as Santa in a purple suit, color of Alzheimer's, instead of red says, "They're are a lot of people with Dementia who slip through the cracks, who may not have any family locally or they may be the only existing family left."

Santa helped deliver gifts to everyone on his list, making sure they received something special.

Gifts were collected at Lexus of Knoxville from November 1, 2012 until mid December.

Items collected and handed out for the Big Red Bow project include handmade blankets scarves, gloves, socks, memory games, lotions, music and even dvd's.

Kay Watson of Alzheimer's Tennessee says, "We wanted items that make them feel good, sometimes it has to do with senses, like scarves blankets are soft. They may not communicate but they can feel that."

Something this Santa knows quite well. Jarnigan says, "I lost my mom in 2003 to Alzheimer's. So I see her in a lot of people I visit with this (Big Red Bow Project.) It's like having her for a moment. Just a piece in time, very special to me."

Santa made about 30 stops in East Tennessee, delivering gifts to about 100 people on the list.


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