Monday, December 05, 2016 - Updated: 3:30 PM
A local church group is responding to those affected by fires in Sevier County, Tenn., that have killed 14 and caused massive amounts of damage to property and businesses.
Doulos — a local Christian outreach group describing itself as "high school and college age students and a couple old guys" — will be heading to Gatlinburg, Tenn., Friday. They began accepting donations Monday in hopes of helping three families.
Lyon County Judge Executive Wade White is part of the church group collecting goods. White said donations may be dropped off at his office in the Lyon County Courthouse any time through Friday afternoon.
"We want to deliver Christmas gifts for three specific families," White said in a written statement. "Two lost their home in fire and another lost jobs due to the fire. You can choose whomever or as many as you want to buy for — they all need gifts — parents and kids. No clothes please."
White is requesting that donated gifts be marked with a name of one of the intended recipients listed in the information box with this article. Gifts should be unwrapped, but wrapping paper would be appreciated.
Cash donations are also being accepted.
According to Associated Press reports, an estimated 1,684 homes, businesses and other structures have been damaged or destroyed by fires in the Gatlinburg area. About 14,000 people were evacuated from the area as wildfires quickly spread across the mountains, pushed by hurricane-force winds.
Tens of thousands of acres were damaged. On Friday, Doulos members will see that devastation first hand, but hope to provide some comfort.
The group is also hoping to take towels, blankets, new crock pots, new small microwaves, any baby items, diapers, pull ups, infant and children's medicines and Benadryl.
"We went a few weeks ago to Louisiana to help the flood victims and everyone was extremely generous," White said. "We look forward to showing our friends in Gatlinburg how generous you are. Thanks to everyone."