TQL Offices Unite to Aid Smoky Mountain Recovery

A Burning Forrest Behind Two Small Animals

When the wind hit hurricane levels, the situation went from bad to worse.

Fire blew through The Great Smoky Mountains, forcing more than 14,000 people in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and other parts of the Tennessee tourist mecca and national park to evacuate. The blaze consumed at least 170 homes.

Only about an hour west of the fires, TQL Knoxville rallied, joining forces with teams from Memphis, Louisville, Evansville and Erlanger to collect more than $1,000 for relief efforts in less than 48 hours.

The money purchased supplies – clothing, blankets, toiletries and toys – for displaced children. Staying in the Rocky Top Sports World shelter, Logistics Account Executive Trainees Chris S. and Aaron S. each took a pickup truck filled with goods there Nov. 30 and went back with more Dec. 3.

Team Erlanger is collecting more supplies, while anyone interested in making a monetary donation can do so with long-time TQL partner, the American Red Cross.

“I have driven in those mountains my whole life and for the first time the tranquility of the mountains simply wasn’t there,” Aaron said. “It was a ghost town with little traffic and no smiling faces. There were trees down and charred on the roadside that added to the feeling that this was an area that was barely hanging on. It truly was heartbreaking.” 

“The route we were on took us around the backside of the city,” Chris said. “We only saw some smoke in the distance as the main route into Gatlinburg was closed because of downed trees, powerlines and power poles laying in the road.

“For a tragedy of this magnitude to hit so close to home - combined with having friends who live in the area who were evacuated - was all it took for me to want to help in any way I could. It makes me proud to work for a company concerned with my local community that is willing to give back and help.”

“It was a no brainer that we had to do something to help our neighbors,” Aaron said. “It is the Volunteer State after all. The abundance of compassion, love and commitment to loving thy neighbor are some of the most important values that hold this community together, so I believe it was simply second nature that we had to do what we could to help.” 

“It’s amazing to see people come together from multiple offices to help a community in a time of need,” said Knoxville Satellite Office Leader Blake B. “Thank you again for your contributions and support.”

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