CMA, Chris Young announce Toys for Tots drive for victims of Gatlinburg fire
Photo by WBIR.
KNOXVILLE, TN (WBIR) -
The country music community’s generosity to victims of the Sevier County wildfires continues to grow.
During his Saturday night concert at Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena, Chris Young announced the Country Music Association will host a Toys for Tots toy drive to benefit children in Gatlinburg.
“I’ve seen everything that’s going on in Sevier County with all the wildfires and everything,” Young said as fans cheered. “It’s pretty heartbreaking. So on top of what we’re doing, I’m a CMA Board member and they wanted me to let everybody know tonight that CMA is also going to do a Toys for Tots drive in Nashville this week and they … are going to make sure all of those are going to be delivered before Christmas Eve to Sevier County. It’s Christmastime man … we’ve gotta help people. It’s absolutely terrible.”
The CMA is asking members of the trade organization to bring unwrapped toys to its annual member party Tuesday at CMA’s new corporate offices, 35 Music Square E., suite 201. The group will accept donations 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through Friday. On Tour Logistics, a Division of Averitt Express, will transport the toys from Nashville to Gatlinburg for free on Dec. 19.
“We have many artists and CMA members with strong ties to East Tennessee and we are thankful to Chris for spearheading this effort,” Sarah Trahern, Chief Executive Officer of CMA, said in a statement. “Recovery in the region will take time, but getting a cherished toy into the hands of a child who has lost everything will hopefully spread some needed joy.”
Young, a Murfreesboro native, has vacationed with his family in Gatlinburg many times and has long been a Toys for Tots supporter. This fall the singer partnered with Toys for Tots to collect toys for children in nine states during his I’m Comin’ Over World Tour – including children in the East Tennessee areas impacted by fires. Ahead of his Knoxville show, one of Young's tour buses delivered a load of donated clothes, food and toys from the Nashville area to the Sevier County Volunteer Rescue Squad to be distributed throughout the Smoky Mountain community.
In addition to the new toy drive, the Country Music Association partnered with East Tennessee native Kenny Chesney to announce a joint $500,000 fund to aid Sevier County in its ongoing recovery efforts.
Tuesday night, Sevier County native Dolly Parton will host her telethon Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund, which will air at 7 p.m. on GAC, AXS TV, RFD, The Heartland Network, USAToday.com, Tennessean.com, Knoxnews.com, dnj.com and other USA Today National Networks.
Performers include Young, Chris Stapleton, Amy Grant, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Alabama, Hank Williams Jr., Cyndi Lauper, Don McLean, Ronnie Dunn, Jamey Johnson and Lauren Alaina.
ACM Lifting Lives and the Academy of Country Music donated $100,000 to the My People Fund and Taylor Swift matched the donation to bring the total to $200,000 to the help families whose homes burned in the Sevier County.
Parton announced the My People Fund in the immediate aftermath of the wildfires that swept through her native Sevier County last week, killing 14 people and damaging or destroying well over 2,500 structures.
The fund provides $1,000 a month for six months to Sevier County families whose primary residences were left uninhabitable or were completely destroyed by the blaze.