Knoxville hero pays it forward, helping families in need

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – There are shelves full of donated items at Knoxville Pay It Forward that will quickly go to families in need in East Tennessee, from deodorant to shampoo to diapers.

These are things that Knoxville Pays It Forward founder Kim Cantrell is collecting to go into crisis bags.

“Right now, we’re looking for different items. That could be anything from cleaning supplies, toilet paper, our biggest need right now would be laundry detergent but [we also need] dish detergent and personal care items,” said Cantrell.

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Toothpaste, socks and underwear are also always on the wanted list. They are basic things often overlooked in an emergency situation.

“There are many places in Knoxville you can get food, but these items you can’t get so if we can help them with items like this, so they can spend more time concentrating on items like food or gas, then maybe that can help them,” Cantrell said.

Volunteer Sandra Sacco found herself needing help when the family van broke down at Christmas with no money for presents for her children. Two of her kids have special needs and depended on the van for medical appointments.

“She put the word out and within hours, we had a community that stepped up and provided Christmas for our children and it was such a blessing,” Sacco tearfully said.

Right now, Knoxville Pays It Forward operates out of MidSouth Trucking Company’s Warehouse on Rutledge Pike, owned by Cantrell’s father. Donations are packed into every nook and cranny, and the space is not climate controlled.

There’s a chance the company will be sold, and Cantrell will have to find another place to do her good works. She’s taking that in stride, saying somehow it will all work out.

If you’d like to make a donation, or if you need assistance, you can get in touch with Kim Cantrell at

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