East Tennessee Foundation providing disaster relief throughout region

Published 8:47 am Thursday, December 1, 2016


In response to the wildfires that have destroyed or damaged homes and businesses in Sevier County as well as other fires burning across the eastern end of the state, the East Tennessee Foundation is activating their relief fund to provide aid to those in need.
ETF Director of Regional Development Trudy Hughes said the organization is preparing to make grants through their Neighbor To Neighbor Fund, which provides disaster relief to communities.
“We’ve had that fund for years and have used it to help out our 25 counties in the event of natural disasters,” Hughes said. “We take contributions from the Fund and then make grants back into the communities.”
The Neighbor To Neighbor Fund is an endowed fund, but Hughes said the ETF is also seeking donations from the community to help bolster the fund and help it provide even more relief in the wake of the disastrous fires that have burned throughout the region.
On Wednesday, Hughes spoke with the Elizabethton Star while she was in Sevier County trying to assess the best way ETF can help. Many agencies are already in place assisting with shelter and distributing food, water and clothing donations that are being sent to the area, she said.
“We’re meeting with agencies like the rescue squads and fire departments who are the boots on the ground to see what their needs are,” Hughes said. “What they’re going to need is to be able to replenish their supplies after they are done so they are ready for the next thing that comes along.”
The ETF is currently looking to not only assist the local emergency agencies in Sevier County, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge but all of the agencies in the area who have sent personnel, equipment or supplies. The organization is also looking to support emergency agencies in other communities —like Carter, Cocke, Greene and Washington Counties — that have had fires to fight in their own back yards as well.
“We’re going to try to spread our grants out to all the affected communities,” she said.
ETF is currently working to identify agencies requiring support for providing immediate relief. Over the coming weeks, ETF plans to meet and partner with community fire departments, rescue squads, and other community organization to determine the need for replenishing depleted resources as a result of the region’s recovery and rebuilding.
In a statement released by the Foundation, the ETF asked for those who are able to donate to relief efforts to consider partnering with them in providing assistance. Those interested can make donations or obtain more information through their website at www.eastennesseefoundation.org or by calling the Foundation’s office at 865-524-1223.

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