Gift of giving

Teaghyn Luper had the idea to hold a hot cocoa fundraiser for needy children, which became a reality Sunday, Dec. 23. She stands beside the sign she, her father and sister helped design promoting the event.
During this time of year, most youngsters dream of what their parents and Santa Claus might leave for them under the Christmas tree ...

But in the days before Christmas, 4-year-old Teaghyn

Luper wasn’t thinking about herself — she was thinking about children who might not be so fortunate.

“We were having pancakes and drinking Grinch hot cocoa on Saturday (Dec. 22), when (just out of the blue) she said she wanted to have a hot chocolate stand the next day to raise money for children’s Christmas presents,” said her mother, Libby, Thursday Dec. 27, when the family shared Teaghyn’s story.

“I wanted to give money to boys and girls who don’t have some,” Teaghyn added.

The family — which also includes father, Chris, student ministry pastor at Concord United Methodist Church; Teaghyn’s sister, 2-year-old Anistyn; and Chris’ mother, who was visiting for the holidays — quickly sprang into action and were able to make sure

Teaghyn’s hot cocoa stand was set up Sunday afternoon, Dec. 23, in the front yard of their Alderwood Court home.

“If it was important to her, it was important to us,” her father said.

They bought disposable cups “even though Teaghyn wanted to use our mugs,” Libby said, and Teaghyn made the cocoa herself. Her grandmother made sweet treats to give out with the hot chocolate, and Chris helped with the sale poster, drawing out the lettering and putting up a tent in the front yard covered with Christmas lights.

Teaghyn drew pictures of her family on the poster, and her sister, who insisted on including marshmallows with the cocoa, also helped color it.

They put the word out on the Alderwood Court neighborhood Facebook page and waited for responses.

“We had a couple early on and were afraid maybe we wouldn’t have many,” Libby said. “But then people started coming and I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough.”

They nearly sold out of cocoa within an hour, and finally shut down the stand “because it was 30 degrees and raining,” Libby said.

“We are really grateful to our neighbors for supporting her,” Chris said.

Neighbors weren’t the only ones who helped contribute to the cause: relatives, former students and church members also made donations, he added.

“Teaghyn is going to take them to church and give it to Miss Jane (Currin, CUMC’s director of missions) to give to the Wesley House.”

“We got in on (helping with) Christmas a little late,” said Libby, who added Teaghyn is already looking forward to the summer and holding a fundraising lemonade stand to help those less fortunate.

Chris said the family’s lives have “been geared toward helping others,” which also is evidenced by Libby teaching first grade at Amherst Elementary School. “And we have always encouraged them to be kind.

“It is just part of who we are.”

Teaghyn seems to have taken that very much to heart. One of CUMC’s youth’s volunteer outreach programs has become monthly trips for the 4-year-old to the Volunteer Ministry Center in downtown Knoxville.

“Teaghyn loves going down there with us,” Chris said.

“When Teaghyn was 3, she wanted to know why the folks at the Volunteer Ministry Center were there.

“She asked, ‘Why them?,’ and when we told her (about how the organization helps the homeless), she said she was going to change the world and would build houses for them.”

“We are just so proud of her

to have come up with this on her own,” said Chris. “And it was pretty great to see how everyone came together to make this happen.”