GATLINBURG (WATE) – East Tennessee residents continue to show why this is Volunteer country, as many individuals, businesses, and organizations come together to help evacuees after a wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
WATE 6 On Your Side has received numerous questions about how people can get involved. We have compiled a list of ways to donate and volunteer, as well as upcoming benefits for the continued recovery effort. We will continue to update this story as more information comes in.
Volunteer East Tennessee is leading the efforts to organize volunteers and volunteer opportunities in response to the Sevier County fires. They are currently working with local and state officials to determine immediate and long term volunteer needs. The Volunteer Reception Center is now open daily 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will serve as a check-in point for all volunteers wishing to help in the fire recovery efforts. Volunteer shifts are currently scheduled through December 18. There are hundreds of opportunities available and more to come as needs are assessed. Walk-ins are welcome, but volunteers are encouraged to sign-up in advance here.
The Volunteer Reception Center is located at 1304 Parkway in Sevierville.
Monetary donations are accepted by several organizations assisting in the fire recovery efforts or benefiting the people who have lost their homes and businesses.
Dolly Parton announced the the My People Fund, part of the Dollywood Foundation, which will provide $1000 each month for up to six months to Sevier County families who lost their homes in the wildfires. A telethon for this fund is set to take place in Nashville on December 13. Donations can be also be made on the Dollywood Foundation website.
The American Red Cross continues to operate two shelters in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area. Monetary and in-kind donations are accepted. In order to donate to American Red Cross of East Tennessee, donate online at redcross.org where you can specify the local Red Cross. Checks can be sent to the Red Cross office at 6921 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, TN 37909. Also, $10 donations can be made by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Donations made via text will be on the supporter’s phone bill. In-kind donations can be taken to the central distribution center at Boyd’s Bear at 149 Cates Lane in Pigeon Forge.
Citizens National Bank has set-up a Sevier County Fire Relief Fund. Donations can be made at any CNB branch or mailed to 200 Forks of the River Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37862.
The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation has established the Gatlinburg Relief Fund in conjunction with SmartBank. These funds will benefit the families and businesses affected by the fires. Donations can be made online, in person at any SmartBank location, or checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 1910, Pigeon Forge, TN 37868. Please make checks payable to Gatlinburg Relief Fund.
A full service website and call center are now available to aid in providing information about all Sevier County wildfire recovery-related efforts. The Sevier County Economic Development Council, in conjunction with Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, announce the creation of www.mountaintough.org. County officials have also collaborated with United Way of Greater Knoxville to transition all of the call center to East Tennessee 2-1-1. Local residents can dial 2-1-1- toll free, and concerned citizens outside the local area can dial 865-215-4211. The call center will operate Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. The www.mountaintough.org website and 2-1-1 can provide up-to-date information regarding non-profit organizations that are accepting monetary donations, and how to contribute in-kind donations such as food, clothing, toys and school supplies.
BENEFITS & EVENTS
-Each of the five Knoxville Regal Cinemas locations will donate 100 percent of funds collected during the Holiday Round Up campaign to support the American Red Cross of East Tennessee and those affected by the fires.
–Project 615, a philanthropic t-shirt & apparel company based in Nashville, created a “Heart for the Smokies” t-shirt. The company’s website states that 100 percent of the profits from sales of this specific tee will go directly to the Gatlinburg Relief Fund, which benefits the families impacted by the wildfires. The shirt is selling for $24.99 and is available for order here.
-Whiskey Bend Bar & Dance Club is hosting a benefit concert on Friday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m. Musicians Ty Herndon, Stephen Hunley, and Dave Kennedy are performing. A suggested donations of $10 will go the Gatlinburg Relief Fund.
A Community Resource Center is available to residents affected by the fires. The center is located at 149 Cates Lane in Pigeon Forge. Services available include insurance carriers with mobile emergency teams, help from the Tennessee Department of Labor with unemployment filing, and supply distribution.
The center will be open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.