Giving BIG in Knoxville in a Pandemic

New Beginning baskets. Photo by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — Giving. Its not just in the form of money. Worldwide the giving came in many forms on December 1st. 

Despite the pandemic the world is suffering from, the first Tuesday of December citizens and businesses opened their hearts and

Keenan Grimes Outreach Center provided free grocery giveaways.

wallets to share what they had with others. This giving came in the form of money, time, advocacy, services and goods. 

Called “Giving Tuesday,” Knoxville Mayors Indya Kincanon and Glen Jacobs worked in partnership with the United Way on the Big

Martha Jane Larue Baker smiles joyfully everytime she helps someone.

Give in Knoxville. Many small nonprofits across the city did not wait for Tuesday. Martha Jane Larue Baker, owner of Care Cuts, set up and gave free haircuts and styles, others gave shoes, hats, and coats early in anticipation of the forecasted bitter weather, and others gave toys and filled personal needs for adults and  kids in crisis. The giving occurred all over the city in many forms.

The need is great. More so this season than in the past as many have been laid off since March. Many families are suffering, especially low-wage and hourly workers affected by closures and hours cut back by businesses in an effort to stem the rise of covid cases. Those who can,  give everything

Robert Bailey helps Aaliyah Shipe sort thru toys for distribution. Photo by Vivian Shipe

they are able to give in order help others.

Free groceries for laid off workers were provided by Ira Grimes founder of The Keenan Grimes Outreach Center. In addition to hundreds of free haircuts, clothing and showers,  Care Cuts partnered to give away 100 free pizzas and helped five former homeless people furnish their new homes. Even the Mend House, a sober living community run by founder Reico Hopewell, was blessed by the community who

Reico Hopewell
Founder/Director of The Mend House

dropped of rounds and rounds of food and groceries. As he moved around the kitchen preparing a meal for the men who live at the facility, Hopewell said, “This holiday season is one of the worst he has seen for those seeking to find a new way to live without drugs or alcohol.” 

Hopewell’s words echoed the sentiment felt around the country as the mental stress of COVID-19 has increased the numbers of those suffering from depression and anxiety. Children are not exempt from this depression and organizations like Emerald Youth Foundation and Voice of the Voiceless were among those who worked to fill the Christmas wishes of those who voiced a desire for a certain toy. 

Voice of the Voiceless filled the needs of ten different groups and families. Holding a COVID-19 Toy Drive, the organization enlisted the aid of the community at large who stepped up  to buy the toys on all list provided . So many toys and personal need items flowed thru the doors of  C.O.N.N.E.C.T. Ministries, they filled the office and conference tables. C.O.N.N.E.C.T. founder Keira Wyatt also provided gift cards to go with every toy distributed.

Giving also came in the form of service as students volunteered their Sunday afternoon to separate, inventory and package the toys for distribution. Robert Bailey, a sophomore at West High was asked how he felt about the pandemic crisis and his peers said, “It’s crazy how everybody is being affected.” When asked how he felt  about volunteering to help other kids he said. “It makes me feel good.”

On December 1st, around the world, that “feel good” feeling seemed to be the consensus.