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Knoxville Tik Tok star sparks generosity from across the world

A Knoxville woman started a holiday tradition that grabbed people’s attention as far as Ireland.
Published: Dec. 10, 2020 at 7:23 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Knoxville woman started a holiday tradition that grabbed people’s attention as far as Ireland. For Leslie Segla, what began as a fun activity to get through the pandemic, has turned into a making a difference initiative that has reached all corners of the globe.

Segla is a Tik Tok influencer whose videos inspired others to donate Christmas gifts to some organizations close to her heart, the ‘Grandparents as Parents’ being one of them.

“I’m just in awe I think that many people that aren’t even local were like let’s help out this local agency,” said Leslie Segla.

The majority of the gifts are going to the Grandparents as Parents program.

“We are so excited. We are thrilled,” said Tracy Van de Vate, program manager of the Grandparents as Parents program.

One of those grandparents, James Vineyard, is now raising his 8-year-old grandson. Getting help means a tremendous amount.

“It means a lot. There’s a lot of people out there who do care,” said Vineyard.

This Christmas will look different for his family thanks to complete strangers from around the world who wanted to give back. Some have donated gifts from as far away as Ireland.

Being a senior caregiver presents many different challenges, and even going out, especially amid a pandemic, can be extremely difficult.

“So going to the store sometimes is not possible. We have some that don’t drive, so that even makes it more difficult,” said Van de Vate.

Vineyard explained, “My wife’s not that good on computers, you know what I’m saying? And I don’t mess with computers more than I have to.”

In all, 150 gifts were donated to the Grandparents as Parents program. But they weren’t the only ones to receive the donations, ‘Youth Wins’, a program for homeless young adults, received some too.

“Most of the kids we work with, everything they own is on their back,” said Annette Beebe.

“We’re just so grateful. This is the age group that really falls in between the cracks,” said Beebe.

Segla planned to do the event again next year. Families will receive gifts in the next couple weeks.

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