Funds provided fallen officer's family

The children of fallen officer Sgt. Chris Jenkins, from left, daughter Chloee and son Clay, receive a donation from Loudon County Sheriff’s Department Benevolent Fund representatives Marita Gruhn-Kelly and Jackie Chanudet.

Just three months following the death of Loudon County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Chris Jenkins in the line of duty, the Loudon County Sheriff’s Department Benevolent Fund presented Jenkins’ family with a $17,500 donation.

Representatives of the Jenkins family and Sheriff-elect Jimmy Davis attended a May 11 meeting of the Conservative Club of Tellico to receive the donation and to thank the club for its generosity.

“We’re blessed to have the Conservative Club take notice of this need,” Davis said. “It’s a great example of how the community can help support the sheriff’s office.”

Davis said LCSO has been through an exhausting process of trying to get over the painful loss of Jenkins. The efforts of those in the community who provided support has been a tremendous help, he said.

The fund was established by the Women’s Auxiliary of the Conservative Club to assist law enforcement officers and their families in times of need, Jackie Chanudet said. The organization is registered as a 501(c) that collects money from members and other residents of the community who want to support law enforcement.

“We wanted to make sure our law enforcement officers were cared for in the event of an injury or death on the job,” she said.

Chanudet said she knew a local deputy had died in the line of duty previously and of efforts to help an officer whose house burned down.

She said she was shocked to learn Jenkins was killed on the interstate by an impaired semitractor-trailer driver. About $5,000 was provided the family to help with funeral expenses. The additional money was raised within several months after Jenkins’ death in February.

“We had a tremendous outpouring of support from the community,” Chanudet said.

The money was raised at club meetings by passing a hat. Shortly after Jenkins’ death, larger amounts — including several donations for $1,000 or more — began to pour in. Future fundraising efforts are planned to rebuild the fund to help another officer should the need arise, she said.

She also thanked Community Bank for help setting up an account for donations by cash or check.

Chanudet told Jenkins’ son Clay, himself a LCSO K-9 officer, and his sister Chloee, a student at Loudon High School, that their father was loved and respected in the community.

“I am very blessed and very thankful,” Clay Jenkins said.

Rick Dramm, club president, said he wanted to make sure Jenkins’ family understood how much their father meant to the community.

“I want to personally pray for God’s support for this family,” Dramm said. “The ones who are left behind suffer the most.”

Melissa Smith, Jenkins’ sister, said she was humbled by support from the community for her brother’s family.

“It’s really incomprehensible to understand the impact this support has had on Clay and Chloee,” she said.

Smith said she was going to make it her personal mission to support the fund so other officers and their families would be able to receive the same kind of support.

Loudon County Commission Chairman Henry Cullen, father of a law enforcement officer who died in the line of duty, said he was also appreciative of the outpouring of support in the community following Jenkins’ death.

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