I have procrastinated too long on this, and to all reading this and all those impacted by the fires in East Tennessee last month, I apologize. This was a terrible tragedy, especially with the loss of at least twelve lives. The alcohol industry members were also impacted. Some of them suffered at least some damage and we have heard that numerous employees have lost their homes in the fire. More on this later. I am saddened to hear that homes were lost this close to the Christmas season. I have no doubt that many hidden Christmas presents were lost in the fires, as well as personal belongings, food, clothes, etc. Hearing about this loss caused me to donate money to several organizations to help relief efforts and I encourage everyone reading this to dig a little deeper into their pockets and donate at least something. It will take a while for the area to recover; however, the area has opened back up and is ready and anxious to return to its normal level of tourism. I encourage everyone to go visit the area as soon as possible and spend money in the various shops and stores. Take your kids to the aquarium in Gatlinburg and ride the Ferris Wheel in Pigeon Forge. This is one of the best and easiest ways to help the entire area recover since it is so reliant on tourism. Please do not cancel your plans to stay in the area. There is still plenty to do while visiting. I also encourage people to buy the really awesome “Smokies Strong” merchandise to further help relief efforts. http://govols.shgstores.com
Now, back to focusing on the alcohol industry. I know two industry members have set up relief funds for their employees. All amounts collected go to the employees of these companies.
Ole Smoky: Go Fund Me https://www.gofundme.com/displaced-families-of-ole-smoky
1) Monetary donations can be mailed to:
CNB, 2661 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37865
Sugarlands Employee Emergency Assistance Fund – Account Number 4036124
2) Gift card donations can be mailed to:
Sugarlands Employee Emergency Assistance, C/O Sugarlands Distilling Company,
P.O. Box 1517, Pigeon Forge, TN 37865
If any industry member has a fund to add to this list, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The impact of this tragic event will not be fully realized for some time. I can only imagine how much production has been slowed down by the fires. And since the local members are very dependent on foot traffic for sales, the slow return of tourists will only further negatively impact these businesses. I encourage everyone to go visit the area as soon as possible and support the local economy by spending money, especially that Christmas money you got from your grandmother or that bonus money you got from your employer. Spending it in the area on something you like will benefit both you and the residents of the area.
To members of the impacted community, please let us know how to help and we are here for you. Stay Smokies Strong and have a Merry Christmas!
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