By Ralphine Major
Margie and Walter Maples shared one experience that stands out in TOTS’ memory when they participated in one of the Appalachian Enterprise mission trips to needy areas led by Mrs. Jeannette Thomas. This particular two-day mission was to a small church in the coal mining area of West Virginia. Somehow, communications with the church had broken down and the little church had not adequately prepared for a large mixed mission group; so the men all slept on the floor of an outbuilding and the women all slept on the church pews! Focus readers may not know that while Walter and Margie were so involved with TOTS, they also developed a route in west Knoxville where they distributed The Knoxville Focus each week for several years! I am sure I speak for many Focus writers and readers alike when I say that we appreciate their diligent work and dedication to getting our news and stories in the hands of residents of Knoxville and surrounding areas. As health issues have prevented them from making Focus deliveries, they left their established route in the capable hands of their granddaughter, Shannon.
TOTS have ministered in song and worship at over 175 churches, retirement centers, church senior groups, senior centers, assisted living/nursing homes, church mission trips and various other events and conferences. They have also conducted Sunday evening worship services at several area churches.
TOTS enjoy singing the old familiar gospel songs and hymns that are seldom sung in churches today. They have been extremely blessed to participate in a ministry that brings so much joy and blessing to others—and themselves!
Eventually, Julie Weaver joined the group to provide that beautiful alto harmony. Some health issues have sidelined the group known by so many as TOTS. Today, TOTS mainly sing with Wallace Memorial’s Hallelujah Chorus led by retired Knox County Schools music teacher Mary Ruth McNatt; and some of them also sing with Wallace Memorial’s Celebration Choir and Orchestra. Perhaps—somewhere in the future—there may be a “reunion” of sorts with that marvelous TOTS group full of harmony and hymns! (In an upcoming issue, read about Jeanette Thomas, the inspiring and energetic lady who is the driving force behind many of the church mission trips.)
Piddle Diddle update: We appreciate everyone who came to our Barnes & Noble book signing last weekend!