Safekeeping project honoring Dana, Sara Keeling reaches goal

Published 5:00 pm Monday, May 7, 2018

A highly-emotional journey ended with tears of joy Saturday evening.

Carter County native Emma Grindstaff announced via social media that the safekeeping project honoring the lives of her daughter and granddaughter –— Dana and Sara Keeling — to provide fire ladders to 150 second-level apartments at Pine Ridge Circle reached its fundraising goal.

“I’m over the moon,” Grindstaff said. “All these families will be safe and be able to get out now. God has blessed me well, I’m so thankful for the support. He’s moved mountains and had his hand in this project since day one. I’m just lost for words.”

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Since the passing of Dana and Sara in an apartment fire at Pine Ridge Circle, Grindstaff has taken to social media and enlisted the help of various community partners to provide portable safety ladders to the apartments operated by the Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency (EHDA). After coming to the table with EHDA and Elizabethton Fire Department, Grindstaff received the greenlight to pursue a fundraising initiative to purchase the portable ladders to stay in compliance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Grindstaff told the Elizabethton Star Sunday that the project couldn’t have been made possible without the support of the community. Over the past three months, Grindstaff worked alongside Angie Odom, director of the TLC Community Center, and several other volunteers within the community to make the endeavor possible. The TLC Center served as a drop-off station for donations, due to their nonprofit status, to make certain the donations were tax-deductible and that they would be funneled directly into the project. Grindstaff and Odom were also able to enlist the help of Mike Barnett, owner of Big John’s Closeouts, to acquire the ladders at a cheaper rate.

The overall goal for the project was $4,200. Grindstaff and company were able to acquire 107 ladders in April to the overwhelming response from the public, leaving just 43 ladders to be purchased. From April until the first week of May, a raffle, Lover’s Lane Flea Market and crowdsourcing was able to pull the project within just $92 of achieving its final goal.

Grindstaff told the STAR that the final $92 came from Odom, effectively putting the final stamp on a year-plus mission.

“I couldn’t save my girls,” an emotional Grindstaff said. “But we can give another family a chance with these ladders.”

Grindstaff added that she anticipates the final funding, which came through social media, to be acquired within the next two weeks. Once received, the purchase will be made to provide the final total of ladders.

To stay up to date with the final progress of the project, follow the Safekeeping Project for Dana and Sara page on Facebook.