Local driver donates his time

More than 20,000 acres were burned and over 2,400 homes, businesses and other structures were destroyed in the fires that surged through portions of eastern Tennessee in November.

What began as a small fire in a remote part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park quickly turned into miles of destruction.

When news of the damage broke to A&S Kinard driver, Tommy Dargis, he knew he had to act.

“I have compassion for other people,” Dargis said. “After seeing the devastation and desperation of these families losing everything to something they couldn’t control right before Christmas…myself, the president of the JW Cooper Center, and other members started to come up with a plan to help.”

Dargis, a fellow member of the JW Cooper Center and Shenandoah community cleanup group is also a former firefighter and Cub Scout leader/mentor. He has a passion for helping those in need.

Efforts originally were set to begin in mid-December, but will now take place later by request of TEMA, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

“Due to overwhelming help their storage is overflowing so as soon as TEMA gives the go ahead we will coordinate,” said Dargis.This trip will not be his first to Tennessee, but it will be his first time participating in relief efforts with A&S Kinard.

Dargis estimates that the trip will take him a day and a half, while his exact destination is still not known.

A&S Kinard is donating a truck and trailer to the cause. The haul, which was collected by the JW Cooper Center from local residents, will consist of clothing, sanitary products, non-perishable food, water, pet food, blankets and more.

Dargis is donating his time and effort to supporting the cause and expects nothing in return. His main goal is help those in need explaining, “I am the type of guy that would give my last dollar if it were to help someone and make them happy.”

“We are all one in the same,” Dargis said. “You never know when it will be your turn to wonder where to go when tragedy strikes. God bless you all.”

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