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Local donation efforts to aid Gatlinburg wildfire victims

The local Red Cross in Tennessee is asking for a pause on donations — as the group works to find shelter for the many people who don’t have a place to stay.

That Red Cross said they’ve heard from an overwhelming amount of people expressing interest in helping, and they are grateful. However, people should hold off on sending in-kind donations such as water, food, clothing and the like, for now.

Skip Tate, spokesman for the Red Cross in Dayton, said those wanting to help can give money by donating online at the Red Cross website.

Dayton Red Cross is accepting small donations of water and food.

Tate said the Red Cross is currently in “response” mode of finding people in need, before shifting to “recovery” mode that includes dispersing the in-kind donations.


Locally in the Miami Valley, Baker Salvage Co. on South Saint Clair Street in Dayton is taking donations that a group will drive down to Gatlinburg on Friday evening. The business has a sign out front “Pray for Tennessee.”

Owner Jake Baker said he just got back from a weekend trip to Gatlinburg in which he saw some devastating images.

“We’ve all gone down there for years,” Baker said. “Pretty much everybody I’ve talked to, at least 90 percent of the people have gone down there or had some kind of personal touch to the area or nature or something like that. Just kind of breaks your heart to see all that nature and stuff just kind of devastating and burnt to a crisp within minutes.”

Baker Salvage Co. is seeking donations of water, canned food, pet food and animal kennels of any size.

Meanwhile, people in Darke County are coming together to help the wildfire victims.

Sgt. Tim Zellers, of Arcanum police, said he and his family often vacation in Tennessee and he is now collecting non-perishable items through Friday to take down.

The items can be dropped at several locations, including the Arcanum, Ansonia and Union City police departments, Tri-Village Rescue service station and Milton-Union High School.

“Every day basic non-perishable stuff,” Zellers said. “People have lost pretty much everything except the clothes on their back. If you run into a police officer and you give them money we will take that down with them.”

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