Novel fundraising during a pandemic

Kevin Meyer helps load a bag of dog food donated by Ricki’s PET DEPOT to be transported to the Loudon County Animal Shelter.

Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village member Kevin Meyer put together a drive-through fundraiser Friday to support Loudon County Animal Shelter and the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County while practicing social distancing.

Meyer got the idea after his neighborhood did something similar in April for the Good Samaritan Center.

Meyer thought “four-legged friends” could also need help during trying times, so he called the animal shelter and asked about supply needs. Spring typically gets busy with puppies and kittens being dropped off, so the shelter is stocking up to prepare.

“It’s also when Good Sam usually runs out of food is around the middle of the month, and I thought we’d do a joint fundraiser,” Meyer said. “I thought Tugaloo and the parking lot and why not do a drive-through because of the situation and have folks just drive around and drop off a check or food or both.”

The community-wide fundraiser 9 a.m.-noon Friday included several clubs.

“Last year, Tellico Village created an organization called ‘Tellico Village Working Together,’ and it is a group that is wanting to do functions — instead of everybody doing something separately, we can do some things together and share resources,” Meyer said. “We have the Lions Club, the Women’s Club, the Kiwanis, many other organizations in the Village that are working together on different fundraisers and different activities, so we can maximize the efforts. So that’s what this is.”

Members of the Lions Club, Kiwanis Club and Women’s Club were present. The Community Church at Tellico Village provided traffic cones to create makeshift lanes to guide people into the Tugaloo parking lot. The Loudon County Sheriff’s Office sent two patrol cars to sit on both sides of Highway 444 to control traffic.

Volunteers were set up under a tent with large bins to sort donations and small bins for monetary collections.

“The turnout was pretty good money-wise,” Meyer said. “I thought we’d have more people, but the people that came really dug deep into their pockets. We had a total of $4,260 for the Good Samaritan Center, that was checks and cash, and about 200 pounds of food. For the animal shelter, we had about $2,067 in checks and cash and probably about 500 pounds of food. … In addition to food and money, we had a couple of dog crates that were donated as well.”

Meyer also received collections prior to the fundraiser from Ricki’s PET DEPOT in Farragut and the Good Neighbors Shoppe in Lenoir City.

“I know if their food is at the tail end of its shelf life, and they can’t sell it, or it’s getting to be expired, or if there’s a torn bag, and they can’t return it, they’ll donate it to K-9 units or shelters,” he said. “They were more than gracious to send over 100 pounds of dog food to help with this effort. I asked them if they have any kind of coupon I can print out to give to people, and they sent them to me, and I printed them out, and we’re going to hand them out to people and get them some business. … We’re giving towels and blankets and things because they have to wash the dogs. I also took nine huge garbage bags full of stuff from the Good Neighbor Shoppe to the Loudon County Animal Shelter, and these were things for the dogs and cats — pillows, blankets, towels, toys.”

Meyer said he is proud of the giving nature of Tellico Village residents.

Due to COVID-19, other Kiwanis fundraisers have been canceled or postponed.

“It’s pretty well-known around here that we run two pancake breakfasts — one in the spring, one in the fall,” Rick Hamm, Kiwanis Club president, said. “The one in the spring, we ended up canceling because with the large gathering … it wouldn’t have been safe. We have to consider our members who are older. … We haven’t been able to go out and volunteer like we want. A lot of us in Kiwanis are also involved in just helping volunteer Good Samaritan Center or Good Neighbor Shoppe or in the school system. So many things have been put on hold.”

Hamm is hopeful rescheduled events will eventually happen.

“We had our golf tournament in July that got pushed back to September,” he said. “Then we’ll have our pancake breakfast in November, so hopefully everything doesn’t spike. We should at least be able to have a couple of our fundraisers. People do miss it. It’s a disappointment, not just not to have it, but for the folks that would have attended it.”

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