The Highland County Health Department and Highland County Emergency Management Agency are currently accepting donations for those displaced by wildfires in Gatlinburg and surrounding areas in Tennessee.
Donated items will be collected at the health department, 1487 N. High St., Hillsboro, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday. They will then be delivered to Tennessee by Highland County EMA Director Jim Lyle on Friday night.
“The Emergency Management Office responds to all kinds of emergencies all over the country so we said, hey, we are going down there and they are in dire need, so let’s band together as a community and try to collect some things to take down there,” said Sarah Cooper, public health educator for the health department.
Additionally, the two agencies said in a news release, immediate monetary donations of $10 can be made to the American Red Cross by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. Cash or check donations by mail can be made by visiting redcross.org/donate. A donation form from the website must be sent if the donation is sent by mail.
Call the health department at 937-393-1941 for more information.
The fires have impacted several local families.
Hillsboro resident Heather Goolsby posted this message on Facebook: “On the evening of November 28th a fire spread quickly over the mountains of Gatlinburg, destroying my family’s home and everything they had. Those included are my grandmother Bonnie Goolsby, uncle T.J. Goolsby, and aunt Teresa Goolsby. They escaped with only the clothes on their back and the cars they were driving. While we are very grateful they made it out safely, they are suffering great losses. Not only did they lose their home and everything that needs replaced, they also lost three of their pets considered family.”
A gofundme account has been set up for the Goolsby family to raise $3,000 and as of Wednesday afternoon it had raised $2,430.
Cooper said a health department nurse from Greenfield lost a vacation home in the fires, and there have been reports of other Highland County residents who have, or may have, lost property during the fires.
Homer, the dog that was rescued by local veterinarian assistant Amy Schneider and has served as the face of many other charitable events, had this message posted on his Facebook page: “Homer needs your help!! As we all know, Gatlinburg is in dire need of supplies right now. We have a direct tie to Gatlinburg here in our community. Jamie and Kelly Goolsby have family there and they have lost everything. They said that one of the supplies they are most in need of is dog food! Jamie will be taking supplies to family on Friday; so [Thursday] let’s donate as many bags of pet food as we can! Stop by Ventura’s Feed and Country Store and they will load it in your car/truck!”
Donations can be dropped off at Moon Tractor, 898 W. Main St., Hillsboro.
Local sheriff’s office employee and firefighter Scott Miller also posted a message on Facebook saying that the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District station on Governor Trimble Place in Hillsboro is serving as a collection location for items that will go to firefighters and other public safety personnel in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas in Tennessee.
His post said the items needed include bottled water, Gatorade and energy bar-type food. The Paint Creek fire station in Hillsboro will collect donations through Friday afternoon.
Fayetteville fire and EMS will be taking the donations down to Tennesse this Saturday, Miller’s post said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.