Calera church collecting supplies for victims of Tennessee wildfires

By BRIANA HARRIS / Staff Writer

CALERA – Northside Baptist Church in Calera is collecting supplies to send to victims of the fire that ravaged much of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The church, located at 750 14th St., is accepting supplies until Dec. 23.

Northside Baptist Church Pastor Nick Seamon, who vacations with his family in the Smoky Mountains, said he wanted to do something to help those impacted by the widespread fire in an effort to live the life that Jesus preaches.

“I want to help people who have lost their homes and everything they own,” he said. “My wife and I have two small girls and we want to teach them that Christmas is about more than just receiving gifts.”

Seamon said he contacted the Shelby Baptist Association to get some help with spreading the word to other churches in the county. He said the association also offered to help with the transportation of supplies to Tennessee, if needed.

The supplies will be transported to Tennessee on Dec. 27.

“We always have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters in need,” Seamon said. “When a tragedy like this happens that responsibility is magnified. Just think about all of the parents who had been collecting Christmas gifts for their children and now it’s all gone.

“During the Christmas season I know that people are bombarded with requests to donate, but I’m asking people to try to put themselves in the shoes of someone who has lost everything. Even the smallest bit means a lot to someone who just lost all of their belongings.”

Northside is asking the public to donate the following items: Gatorade, power bars, non-perishable food, lip balm, diapers, new underwear, new socks, household cleaners, powdered baby formula, ladies hygiene products, yard cleaning tools, toothbrushes/toothpaste and gift cards from Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart.

The city of Gatlinburg, located in Sevier County, plans to reopen for business and to the general public on Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 a.m. Most major roadways are expected to be open, but some may remain closed to accommodate utility work.

The fire began Nov. 26 on the Chimney Tops Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Embers from that fire blew into the Gatlinburg area, igniting the city on Nov. 28 – damaging or destroying 1,753 structures in Sevier County. Fourteen thousand residents and visitors were evacuated from Gatlinburg and the surrounding area. The National Park Service reports that there were 134 injuries related to the fire and the death toll sits at 14.

Those who would like to donate supplies should contact Seamon at nick@northsidecalera.org or 410-6418 to coordinate donation drop-offs. Cash donations should me made online via the Tennessee Baptist Convention at tnbaptist.serveronline.net/pymt/dr2016easttnfires.htm.