(WMC-TV) - A surprise public sighting of former Tennessee Senator John Ford nearly four months after his release from federal prison.
He surfaced at a holiday toys and coats giveaway for the children of Memphis - held at his brother's business on Elvis Presley Boulevard.
Some Memphis families had a rare sighting of Mister and Misses Claus Saturday at the Unity Whitehaven Community Christmas Give-A-Way.
"It was like wow, I've seen him in person now instead of on TV," said Give-A-Way attendee Tequila Barbee.
But Barbee is not talking about Santa.
She's talking about seeing former Tennessee Senator John Ford at his brother Edmund's E.H. Ford Mortuary Services giving away coats and toys to Memphis children.
Michaela White, another attendee said she was surprised to see him there, too.
This is the first time any camera has captured the longtime senator, after his August release from prison following a four-year sentence in the FBI's Tennessee Waltz bribery sting.
"That just lets us all know that we make mistakes and it's life. We move on and he still has a good heart," said White.
Ford would not talk on camera, but attendees like Michaela White spoke for him.
"He's giving. He's here giving, helping out for the community so I commend him for that," she said.
"That's something nice of him to do for families that don't have money to get their kids something," said Barbee.
White and Barbee described Ford as easy going and down to earth.
"He was nice. He was waving and ready for us to come up and receive what he's giving out for us," said Barbee.
According to the Department of Justice, Ford is currently on house arrest.
His projected release date is mid-February.