Wilson County residents help disaster relief with ‘Tennessee for Texas’ campaign

Jacob Smith • Sep 12, 2017 at 6:41 PM

Anthony Trawick and Kevin Jones aren’t affiliated with any official organization dedicated to helping out victims of natural disasters.

They’re just a couple of Wilson County residents who saw people in need and decided to take action to help.

“We’re Tennesseans; it’s what we do. We help out our neighbors,” said Jones.

The group started in January 2016 when Jones and some of his friends went to West Tennessee to help with the search for Noah Chamberlain, a 2-year-old boy who lost in the woods.

“Me and some buddies took a bunch of ATVs and search vehicles out there,” said Jones. “We were able to search outside of the search zone, because we weren’t with any of the official search organizations that were out there.”

The group got together again in November when wildfires struck Gatlinburg, which is when Trawick got involved.

“Gatlinburg was a little more personal for us just because most of us vacationed there with our families and stuff,” said Trawick. “We had a bunch of trucks that we filled and took over there to hand out to the people affected by the fires. There was probably 10 of us total, I think it was.”

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Jones felt the need to help out again.

“I was up at about 2 o’clock in the morning – I’m a builder…I was drawing some blueprints – when another one of my buddies who was involved in Gatlinburg sent me a Facebook message asking me what I was doing up,” said Jones. “I told him I was looking at pictures from Hurricane Harvey of the damage and I told him it was kind of putting a weight on my shoulders, and I was thinking about doing the whole Gatlinburg thing for Texas.”

With the support of his friend and the other members of the group who helped out in Gatlinburg, Jones started looking for a location to collect items that could be taken down to Texas.

After being turned down by a number of locations, Bargain Hunt in Lebanon agreed to allow the group to set up semi-trucks in its parking lot for the drive. Bargain Hunt officials also donated one of their own semi-trucks with $120,000 worth of donation goods.

Logo Brands also helped the group out by adding $20,000 in donations.

“We’ve had a lot of help from other businesses that wanted to partake in this,” said Trawick. “We’re just a group of friends that wanted to make a difference and help people, and I can’t think Bargain Hunt enough.”

When the news came Hurricane Irma was on a direct path for Florida, the group decided to get ahead of the storm and began collecting donations for those affected by that storm, as well.

With four total semi-trucks, the plans are to take two of them to Texas and two to Florida.

The trucks for Texas will leave Wednesday, and there isn’t currently a date on when the Florida trucks will leave. The group wants the public to know they’re still collecting items, and the current need is cleanup supplies.

Push brooms, work gloves, industrial-grade trash bags and facemasks are some of the items prioritized.

Some of the members plan to follow the trucks to Florida where they will help give out items and with the cleanup.
“Once we stop with the donations here, we’re not just staying here and sending them,” said Jones. “There are a handful of us that are going with these trucks to physically help out, as well.”

A full list of items still needed can be found at the group’s Facebook Page, Tennessee for Texas, as well as up-to-date information on the shipping schedule and how others can get involved.

Jones said he’s happy to help in any capacity he can and will continue as long as it’s needed.

“No, I don’t ask for any more catastrophes to happen anywhere to anybody, but hopefully in the future, if it does, we’ll still pull together, and we’ll do it again,” said Jones. 

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