Ooltewah man collecting stockings for children affected by Hurricane Michael
An Ooltewah man is trying to make Christmas wishes come true for families in Florida who were left with nothing after Hurricane Michael.
He's collecting donations and asking the community to help with “Stockings for the Gulf.”
Bob Grove lives in Ooltewah but has family in Port Saint Joe, an area hit hard by the hurricane. He wants to spread Christmas cheer to families there, one stocking at a time.
It's a simple decoration and for many, a Christmas tradition.
"The main thing about the whole thing is just putting a smile on a child's face this time of year," said organizer, Bob Grove.
Stockings hanging above the fireplace filled with goodies on Christmas morning is a tradition Grove and his daughter want to make sure children in Port Saint Joe get to enjoy.
"It's up to us as American people to love and support and do anything we possibly can," Grove said.
Grove’s daughter has lived in Port Sat Joe for more than a decade. He’s already made several trips to Florida to help with recovery.
Now, he’s asking his neighbors in the Tennessee Valley to pitch in for his biggest trip yet.
Grove is collecting stockings, and hopes to gather at least 600 of them, filled with toys to give to students at the elementary school.
"Stuffed animals, crayons, coloring books,” Grove suggested as items for the stockings.
"Children don't understand the devastation," Grove explained. "They don't understand why their toys and their homes are gone."
Grove and his family plan to hand deliver each stocking to students at the school. It's a donation he believes will bring the best gift this holiday season: happiness.
"The right child will get the right stocking. I have to believe that part," said Grove.
Grove said he understands how big of a task collecting hundreds of stockings and toys will be, but said the Tennessee Valley is a giving community and knows people here will step up.
They are collecting stockings already filled or you can bring in donations. They will go to elementary age children.
Stockings and toys can be taken to the Ooltewah Antique Store or the Mountain Oaks Tea Room in Ooltewah.
They need to be dropped off by December 10.
You can contact Bob Grover with any other questions at 423-400-1165.