Wildfires caused major damage to the beloved area of Gatlinburg, Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. As of Wednesday, Nov. 30, seven deaths have been confirmed as a result of the wildfires.
Thursday, Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Greek Life community at ETSU will have a booth called Goodies for Gatlinburg to accept donations for those affected by the Wildfires in East Tennessee. A booth will be set up in the space in front of the library.
“There will be tents set up in the Borchuck Plaza,” said freshman Kylie Loveday, who helped plan Goodies for Gatlinburg. “We will be accepting clothes, snacks and bottles of water. Anything will help.”
“Gatlinburg is home and from the memories of the high school football games to the wonderful Christmas spent there, you know it’s something special,” Loveday said. “Gatlinburg is more than just a tourist town to me, it’s home. Having to get a text from your best friend that he lost his home and everything in it is the most heartbreaking thing. Knowing that he doesn’t have a home to come back to when he gets done with his semester at UT is awful.”
The Greek Life community will be accepting donations such as clothing for men, women and children, high calorie snacks and bottled water. A GoFundMe has been made for monetary donations that will be dedicated to the American Red Cross.
“Every summer our sorority goes to Gatlinburg for a retreat and we stay in a big, awesome cabin in the mountains and have the best time and really bond,” said sophomore Ansley Whitley. “We [the Greek community] want to give back to a place that has given us so many great memories, especially since it has impacted some of our sisters who are from there.”
The ETSU response website has also been activated in reaction to the wildfires in Sevier County.
Members of the ETSU community who have been affected by the wildfires are encouraged to fill out a CARE report (a link is available on the ETSU response webpage.) Completing the report will enable the Student Affairs office to reach out to the students with information about help and resources.
The American Red Cross is also accepting donations for evacuees and first responders. Donations can be made by completing a form on the Red Cross website, printing it out and mailing it to The American Red Cross (first line); PO Box 37839 (second line); Boone, IA 50037-0839 (third line).
ETSU also has several support services available for students, faculty and staff who have been affected by the natural disaster. The ETSU Counseling Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They can also be reached by calling (423) 439-4841.
The Employee Assistance Program is another support service that is tailored for university faculty and staff.