For more than 35 years, the King family, owners of Ye Olde Steak House in Knoxville, has been closing its doors to the public on a special Sunday in December to host a private Christmas lunch for residents and staff of the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home.
Although Mrs. Helen King passed away some 13 years ago, her children (Nancy Ayers, Cheryl Wilson, and David King) and grandchildren have continued the tradition of preparing this special Christmas meal for Smoky Mountain Children’s Home residents and staff. In 2011, widows of SpiritCare Center were also included in this special Yuletide meal—which consisted of a deluxe steak, salad, dessert, and drink for approximately 166 individuals.
This year a familiar face was missing from the festive activity—that of former general manager, Hugh (Hank) Wilson. For many years, Hank would play the part of Santa and spent time talking with each child and adult about their Christmas wish lists before giving them a gift bag of goodies. Last year, before his untimely death in October, Hank commented, “My grandparents loved the Children’s Home and wanted to make certain that each child had a good Christmas meal. This has become a tradition that we cherish and look forward to each year. This is a good way to honor my grandparents and do something good for the less fortunate. After all, that is what Christmas is all about.” Mr. and Mrs. King, along with Hank, are still being honored by the family every time this special event takes place.
Dr. Coleman Peacock and Reverend Shane Smith—members of the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home administrative team—were present to personally thank the King family for their love and support for the residents of the facility through the years. Dr. Peacock stated, “It has been an honor to work with the King family for the past 27 years in planning this event. What a blessing they have been through the years to hundreds of youth who have enjoyed this festive occasion at their restaurant! Their tradition is a tradition of blessing that keeps on giving and keeps on honoring those who established it. Over the years, their in-kind gifts would translate to more than one hundred thousand dollars. What a gift of love—what a blessing of hope!”