Bill Weigel saves time for charity
Nov 25, 2012 (Menafn - The Knoxville News-Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Running his convenience store empire consumes the bulk of his time, but Bill Weigel makes sure he saves some time and energy for charitable causes. Perhaps his favorite is the Weigel's Family Christmas.This is done through the Salvation Army, of which Weigel has been a board member about 26 years. Weigel's Family Christmas treats children selected by the Salvation Army to a Christmas shopping spree at the Kmart store on Broadway. On Dec. 8, about 200 volunteers with Weigel's, the Salvation Army and various businesses will take 170 children ages 5-10 shopping.
"We meet them at 7:30 (a.m.) at the Salvation Army gym, give them each 150 and a chaperone," Weigel said. "The store gives us all their checkouts except one. We take them shopping and feed them breakfast that morning. They shop that morning until about 11 then come back and have lunch. They have all their presents in big plastic bags and we truck them back to the Salvation Army."
Weigel said he has been organizing this for about 14 years, and he likes to watch the children shop.
"They will buy a little necklace for their mama. And they will buy a little something for their grandmother, and some don't have daddies, but if they do, they'll buy something for their dad," he said.
Danni Varlan, funds officer for East Tennessee Children's Hospital, has served with Weigel on the Salvation Army board since 1998.
"He is a great guy. He really has a heart of gold," Varlan said. "He has brought so much practical business experience to the Salvation Army and that is a real need. When you are in the nonprofit world, you still need someone with great business advice."
Weigel becomes somewhat less businesslike when he is with the children on shopping day, Varlan said.
"He is absolutely like a little kid running around in that store," she said. "I enjoy watching him as much as the kids. He just beams from ear to ear. You can tell he is the real Santa Claus."
Weigel also plans to institute a program this year called "The 12 Days of Christmas," in which local veterans organizations will pick 12 veterans and their families facing difficulties. They will be treated to 1,500 shopping sprees at stores of their choice.
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