The American Rental Association (ARA) Foundation and the ARA of Tenneessee both donated $3,000 to the American Red Cross for relieft efforts to those affected by the recent Tennessee wildfires.

The $6,000 will go toward helping those near Gatlinburg and parts of Pigeon Forge who were severly affected.

“This disaster has been so devastating to witness,” said American Rental Association Chairman of the Board and ARA Foundation Board Trustee Terry Turner, CERP, owner of All Occasions Party Rentals in Knoxville, which is 35 miles from Gatlinburg. “According to CNN, this disaster has claimed 14 lives, left 134 injured, damaged or destroyed more than 1,600 structures and forced the evacuation of 14,000 people. It is great to see that the ARA of Tennessee was able to take advantage of the ARA Foundation’s Matching Funds Program. The recovery efforts in this area of my home state will take a long time, but this donation will go a long way to assist that effort.”

On Nov. 28 the wildfire spread from its starting point near Chimney Tops in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee into Gatlinburg. It was then that Turner called ARA of Tennessee President Lance Gehring to let him know about the ARA Foundation’s Matching Funds Program.

“When Terry called, I was not familiar with this program,” said Gehring, president of Dixie Rents in Memphis. “It means a lot to be in a position to help out this part of the state in this way. On behalf of the board, I immediately approved the $3,000 donation. This is such a good cause, and with the ARA Foundation’s match, our donation is doubled. It really shows that if you have a strong state association that can generate funds to be used in times of need like this, you have a renewed purpose.”

The donation will have immediate impact, said Melissa Levan, major gifts officer for the American Red Cross of the Central and Southern Illinois region.

“Donations such as this allow us to provide food, clothing and shelter to those affected," Levan said. "We already have supplied 23,400 meals and snacks and more than 2,100 overnight stays. We are very grateful for this donation because it will allow us to continue to take care of the needs of residents who have been affected. That is critical after a disaster strikes.”

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