University of Tennessee Health Science Center alumna Dana Webster Cole (COHP ’98 – Health Informatics and Information Management), who works as a senior business systems analyst for Baptist Medical Group, had plans for a girls trip to Gatlinburg with her best friend, Crystal, for relaxation, but her plans changed with a purpose. She heard about the wildfires on November 29 in Gatlinburg and the surrounding area, and immediately wanted to help those in need.
According to news reports, the disaster has killed 14 people and destroyed or damaged more than 2,400 structures, leaving an estimated $500 million worth of damage and repairs.
On December 9, the lifelong friends loaded two SUVs — one in Memphis and another in Virginia — and took donations to the Jubilee Warehouse in Pigeon Forge near Gatlinburg. Items including winter coats, clothing, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo and laundry detergent, were donated.
“We actually had reservations in downtown Gatlinburg beginning the day after the evacuation,” Cole said. “My heart goes out to all the families that lost everything they own and especially the ones that lost loved ones. I hope they can feel the love from their community, fellow Tennesseans and other states that have stepped up to provide assistance in their time of need.”
Anyone who would like to donate money can go to www.mountaintough.org , or mail a check to: The Dollywood Foundation – My People Fund, 111 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37863 or East Tennessee Foundation: Sevier County Community Fund — East Tennessee Foundation (put “SCCF” in the memo line), 520 W. Summit Hill Drive, Suite 101, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902.