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‘Signal Santas’ celebrates 20 years of giving

For two decades, a group of Signal Mountain ladies has gathered together each year for Signal Santas, a holiday party in which guests contribute donations to a local charity in lieu of exchanging gifts.

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Board members of Signal Mountain Social Services, which for many years has been the recipient of funds raised through Signal Santas, attend this year’s event. From left are Beth Phillips, Lara Caughman, Mary Lee Ziebold, Beth Baker, Leslie Culp, Dawn Carlton and Deseret Ward.

“Everyone just asks someone to come, and it’s grown to be a large group,” said Barbara Mizell, one of seven committee members who planned this year’s Signal Santas event. “It’s just a real festive occasion.”

The idea for Signal Santas belonged to Wanda Lacy, who in 1992 sent out a letter to her friends, who had previously taken turns hosting the year’s holiday party during which gifts were typically exchanged. She requested the annual gathering’s attendees invite guests and bring a charitable donation as opposed to gifts for each other.

The number of attendees has grown from around 30 that first year up to 125 guests, said Mizell. Now in its 20th year, the gathering has grown so large it is held at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church instead of in private homes.

“After this year we might have to have a larger space for the event,” she added.

For many years the recipient of the ladies’ generosity has been Signal Mountain Social Services, to which they contributed nearly $5,000 following this year’s recent event.

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