Knoxville Tik Tok star sparks generosity from internationally

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – A Knoxville woman started a holiday tradition that drew people’s attention as far as Ireland. For Leslie Segla, what started as a fun activity to get through the pandemic has grown into an initiative that makes a difference and has reached every corner of the world.

Segla is a Tik Tok influencer whose videos inspired others to donate Christmas gifts to some of the organizations she cares about, including “Grandparents Parents”.

“I’m just in awe, I think a lot of people who aren’t even there are like we’re helping this local agency,” said Leslie Segla.

The majority of the gifts go to the grandparents as a parenting program.

“We’re so excited. We’re excited,” said Tracy Van de Vate, program manager for the Grandparents Parents program.

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

“That means a lot. There are a lot of people out there who take care of it,” said Vineyard.

This Christmas will be different for his family thanks to complete strangers from all over the world who wanted to give something back. Some have donated gifts from Ireland.

This is a first for the grandparents as parents in 20 years. A social media influencer got people to buy 150 gifts for children. Eighty percent of the gifts go to children cared for by grandparents or other relatives, the other 20 percent go to homeless youth. @wvlt

– Ashley Bohle (@AshleyWVLT) December 10, 2020

Being an elderly caregiver presents many different challenges, and even going out, especially in the midst of a pandemic, can be extremely difficult.

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

Vineyard stated, “My wife is not that good with computers. Do you know what i’m saying And I don’t play with computers any more than I have to. “

A total of 150 gifts were donated to the grandparents as a parenting program. But they weren’t the only ones who received the donations. Youth Wins, a program for homeless young adults, also received some.

“Most of the children we work with have everything they own on their backs,” said Annette Beebe.

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

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

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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