BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In the wake of devastating wildfires in eastern Tennessee, National Woman’s Missionary Union and the WMU Foundation have awarded a $5,000 grant from the HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) Fund to help area ministries aid victims.
The grant, to be dispersed through Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries and Sevier County Associational WMU, will help meet the immediate physical needs of residents who lost their homes.
National WMU President Linda Cooper, of Bowling Green, Ky., said WMU is blessed to be able to mobilize monetary and prayer support for fire victims. “Many have been affected by the horrific fires with the loss of their homes and some with their life. This touches our heart,” she said.
“We at WMU are thankful to help through our HEART Fund and our prayers. May He magnify our efforts as we attempt to minister to those affected,” said Cooper, a member of Forest Park Baptist Church.
At least 10 people have died in the fire, which started Nov. 29 and spread rapidly across Sevier County. The blaze has wiped out more than 17,000 acres and burned more than 700 buildings in the county, according to officials.
“The people affected are in so many different places of need,” said Vickie Anderson, executive director of Tennessee WMU. “Many of them don’t even know the extent of their need yet,” as they are just now being allowed to go back in and see what the damage is.
“People have been living without their things and without information, but they will be transitioning soon into knowing what their needs are,” Anderson said. “We are grateful that the HEART Fund will allow us to be able to respond when the reality of need sets in.”
Tennessee WMU groups have been collecting donated items for those affected by the fires, but the grant will offer the opportunity for ministries in the area to carry gift cards and give them out on the spot as needed, Anderson said. “It provides a very tangible way that we can help.”
The WMU Foundation is accepting donations to the HEART Fund for disaster relief victims online at wmufoundation.com or by mail to WMU Foundation HEART Fund, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL 35242. (WMU)