Knox County Schools organize efforts to help wildfire victims

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Schools has organized a massive amount of relief efforts for those affected by the fires in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

More: How to help: Smoky Mountain fire evacuees

Students at West Valley Middle School decided they wanted to do something to help the Gatlinburg fire relief effort.

“I like the aquarium, I don’t want it to burn down. I like Dollywood, but that’s not all,” said 6th grade student council representative Eric Lindley. “I just want to help the people in Gatlinburg.”

The student council organized the fund.

“We had heard that they needed to collect money so we though it was a great idea to set up and stand and have students bring in money and then they can write little cards that say, ‘Pray for Gatlinburg,’ and things like that. Anything, pennies dollars anything will help and everybody seems to be really excited about it and really glad to be able to help the community,” said Student Council President Kena Holmes.

They heard the Red Cross is no longer accepting physical donations, but is in need of monetary aid.

“We thought it’d be nice to collect money and help the people in need who need to evacuate and like need the money. I have really good friends and everybody’s really supportive of this cause because everyone lives in this state and wants to help out as much as they can,” said Lindley.

Their teacher, Ms. Wells, says she is so impressed by her students and the school’s support.

“It’s something that’s very important at West Valley, that we treat others respectfully and we do things to help them,” said 6th grade teacher and Student Council Sponsor Melissa Wells. “I’ve seen a lot of kids come together and agree with that and want to take hold of that.”

It’s an idea the kids clearly agree with.

“It makes me feel like I’m actually doing something for the community and that like this could help somebody,” said Lindley.

West Valley Middle is accepting donations from anyone in the community who wants to help. You can drop off donations at the school any time during business hours.

A number of other Knox County Schools are planning efforts to help fire victims:

  • Blue Grass Elementary has asked their students to donate spare change for the Red Cross. One student brought in $300 of his own money to help the cause.
  • Byington-Solway CTEC has organized a drive to collect items to help those that have lost belongings, including water, clothes and essential items like toothpaste and toiletries.
  • Career Magnet Academy has organized a collection drive for water and snacks for the first responders. The first load was delivered on Nov. 29 and a second load will be delivered tomorrow, Dec. 1.
  • Carter Elementary is collecting bottled water, Gatorade, lip balm, wool socks and cereal bars for first responders. They are also collecting diapers and wipes, cat and dog food for displaced residents. The items will be delivered on Friday.
  • Cedar Bluff Elementary’s Nature Club is spearheading a collection of supplies and money/gift cards. The donations will be dropped off on Friday.
  • Central High School’s P.E. Department is collecting donations for the Sevier County Animal Shelter to help care for the many displaced animals and pets.
  • Christenberry Elementary: Encouraging students on Friday, Dec 2 to wear their favorite hat and/or pajamas to school and donate $1 toward those affected by the Sevier County fires. The school is also collecting new items to donate. All items can be brought to the school and staff volunteers will deliver them to local agencies directly helping those displaced.
  • Corryton Elementary is having a collection on Friday, Dec. 2 for needed items such as food, water, toiletries, pet food, and more to be taken to Sevier County over the weekend.
  • Dogwood Elementary staff is collecting supplies to be delivered at the end of the week.
  • Farragut Middle is taking up monetary donations for the American Red Cross and collecting toiletry items and protein bars.
  • Farragut High School SGA is taking up donations in first block classes.
  • Gibbs High’s Criminal Justice classes have organized a schoolwide effort to take up bottled water, Gatorade, snacks, protein bars, eye drops, and more for first responders in Sevier County. The other students and members of the community have been helping with donations, collecting items and assisting in taking the items to Sevier County.
  • Halls Middle’s Random Acts of Kindness Club is collecting donations and will deliver them to the Ford Dealership in Sevierville to distribute.
  • Hardin Valley Academy is doing a schoolwide drive for items as needed for pets in particular, but is also collecting cash donations and water. The effort is being coordinated through the Planned Acts of Kindness Club.
  • Karns High is requesting that students and staff bring needed items for the Gatlinburg Relief Fund.
  • Karns Middle is collecting toothbrushes and toothpaste through its student council; the girls’ basketball team is collecting monetary donations; and the school has a hat day scheduled with earmarked for animal shelters and the care of animals.
  • Northshore Elementary is hosting “Dimes for a Disaster” with a goal of raising $1,000 in support of relief efforts.
  • Powell High is serving as a collection hub for the Powell community. The intent is to donate directly to Gatlinburg-Pitman High School to help displaced faculty, staff and students.
  • Powell Middle is working with its PTSA to host a Food/Water/Supply Drive through Friday for the American Red Cross shelter in Sevierville, where many victims are currently staying.
  • Ritta Elementary is conducting a money drive on Saturday, Dec. 3 during its holiday craft fair. Students are also being asked to bring in other needed items in the upcoming weeks.
  • Sam E. Hill Preschool is making cards and collecting water and power bars for first responders as well as gathering games and activities for small children.
    South-Doyle will be taking donations for Gatlinburg this Friday night at the first home basketball game. A case of water, pack of Gatorade, box of protein bars, a bag of dog/cat food or other needed items equal free admission into the game. All donations will be taken to the drop off point in South Knoxville.
  • Sterchi Elementary is having hat day on Friday. Everyone who wants to participate can donate $1 with money raised donated to the relief effort.
  • West High is collecting items for the relief effort with a special focus on the needs of first responders. It is gathering Chapstick, water, energy bars and gum. In addition, they are collecting donations of pet food, diapers and other items of necessity.
  • West Valley Middle is hosting a donation drive through next Wednesday, Dec. 7 for the Red Cross.

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