Kris Mullis loves Christmas.
This is the second year in a row that he has demonstrated just how much by holding a coloring contest for children of all ages at the Huddle House restaurant in Thomson. The top winners of the coloring contest, which were judged by restaurant customers, were given bicycles.
"I enjoy doing this for the kids," said Mr. Mullis, who serves as unit manager for the restaurant. "I enjoy watching their faces light up with excitement when they are announced winners. It's what the magic of Christmas is all about. It's real special for me and it's becoming real special for our employees and customers, too."
Dozens of customers and winners of the coloring contest were treated to a free meal and special snacks provided by the local restaurant manager and his employees during last Wednesday afternoon's special gathering at the restaurant.
The coloring contest began Nov. 1 and concluded Dec. 20. Customers actually judged the coloring work of the children in each age division the following day. During that time, the color work of all of the participants was displayed on the walls of the restaurant.
"We had lots and lots of customers stop and look at the kids' work," said Mr. Mullis.
The youngest bicycle recipient turned out to be 3-year-old Kyleigh Tankersley, of Boneville. Other bicycle winners included: Mikaela Uscanga, 8, a third grader at Lincoln County Elementary School; Barry Lee Tutt, 5, a kindergarten student at J.A. Maxwell Elementary School in Thomson; and Alden Coleman, 10, of Thomson.
"I think it's indicative of what Huddle House is all about," remarked Chris Strong, who serves as director of operations for the restaurant chain. "Kris personifies the Huddle House spirit."
Pat Dixon, of Claxton, Ga., who serves as district coordinator of Huddle House restaurants, commended Mr. Mullis for his genuine thoughtfulness of children this time of the year.
"We want to make everyone feel like they are home away from home when they come to the Huddle House," said Ms. Dixon, remembering that her daughter used to say when she was growing up that her mother "was at the other house. Kris and his employees make everyone feel that way here in Thomson."
Mr. Mullis hopes the Christmas coloring project will continue to grow in terms of participants next year.
"I want to see this project get bigger and bigger every year," said Mr. Mullis.