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Clark Hooks may be young, but he's one of the most seasoned veterans at the Last Minute Toy Store.
"I've been doing this 12 years," Hook said. "I'm 17."
He started sorting stuffed animals when he was only 5 and now, 12 years later he guided shoppers through the maze that is the Last Minute Toy Store, Sunday at the Sixty-First United Methodist Church in West Nashville.
"I'm a kid and I get to help kids," Hooks said. "I'm very passionate about that."
The Last Minute Toy Store has been helping families down on their luck put gifts under the tree for 19 years.
"They stand in line all night to get tickets to come in here," said Gene Cook, volunteer. "They're desperate."
Cook volunteers because he also knows what it's like to lose everything.
"In 2010 I lost my house in the flood," Cook said. "I know what it feels like to be desperate like that."
Cook estimates this year, the Last Minute Toy Store brought in close to $35,000 in donated toys, from donors as large as the Tennessee Titans and as small as single families.
Organizers said all of the dolls, games and footballs will make Christmas morning a reality 1,400 low-income families and close to 5,000 kids.
"I've had them break down in tears," Cook said. "It's a worthwhile cause. I feel like I really help people when I do this."
That spirit is what keeps the volunteers coming back year after year. Next Christmas, Hooks will be an adult, but for now, he gets one more Christmas of being a kid helping other kids.
"I see a child, I see a teen, that doesn't have Christmas and I see me, and how I would feel in that situation," Hooks said. "I just can t help but feel sorry and then happy to see them with their toys and happy to imagine them on Christmas morning, opening those toys and just being overjoyed."
Organizers said teens are often overlooked during toy drives, which is why this year they made a push for donations like video games, perfumes and athletic gear. Organizers said the community delivered so well that more than a thousand teens will also have age appropriate gifts under the tree this year.
Sunday, December 23 2012, 10:32 AM CST
Singer asks forgiveness from Chattanooga in video
June 19, 2013 15:29 GMT
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Musical performer Cee Lo Green is making nice with Chattanooga after his recent Riverbend appearance that drew criticism.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/190vuNs ) reported the singer and rapper says on a video posted on TMZ.com, "Forgive me, Chattanooga."
Riverbend officials have apparently cooled off and made plain they never said Cee Lo was banned from future events, but said they thought they had an agreement to keep the show clean.
Officials said they were disappointed that the artist drank onstage, cursed during his performance and mooned the audience.
In his video, Cee Lo also apologized for the late start to his show, which festival officials said was due to weather delaying his flight.
Said Cee Lo, "I meant no harm."
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com
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