Bearded Sinners collecting items for SMARM | News

SEVIERVILLE — This time, the blankets are for humans.

Members of the Sevier County chapter of the Bearded Sinners have previously gathered blankets, pet food and other supplies for Sevier Animal Care Center. They’re working now to collect items that will be donated to Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries.

Bearded Sinners is a nationwide service organization, and the local chapter now has 12 members.

“We like to do the animal shelter stuff,” said member Douglas Pope, adding that the group seeks out a variety of nonprofits for their monthly service projects.

The Bearded Sinners have provided pizza for the youngsters who attend the Pigeon Forge branch of Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains.

In January, members gave 45 face masks to Little Lamb Child Care in Pigeon Forge.

They will travel in May to Nashville, where they’ll meet with people interested in joining Bearded Sinners and work to clean up a greenway at the city’s Metro Animal Care and Control.

For now, the volunteers are concentrating on collecting as many items as possible to take to Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries on March 20.

“All of us are gathering baby clothes, boxes of bar soap, food and blankets,” Pope said. “Some members are collecting at work.”

They welcome assistance from any community members who would like to add to their collection before March 20.

“We can set something up to get donations from people,” said Pope.

Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries operates Treasures from the Heart Thrift Store in downtown Sevierville, so a wide variety of goods can be accepted. Staffers and volunteers also give some needed items to those seeking assistance.

Director Ryan Huskey says the nonprofit is primarily seeing people asking for help with emergency housing and utility bills.

“We can step in when there’s a disconnect notice,” he said.

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, many utility providers temporarily suspended shutoffs due to nonpayment. The Sevier County Electric System resumed shutoffs in June 2020. Knoxville Utilities Board, which serves customers in portions of Sevier County, resumed them in October 2020.



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SMARM staffers and volunteers are seeing impacts of the pandemic on Sevier County’s long-standing housing shortage.

“We’ve had a bunch of calls from individuals and families who have come here for a job,” said Huskey. “Jobs are plentiful.”

Some who already had housing are in danger of losing it.

“Some landlords are starting the eviction process,” Huskey said.

The nonprofit has just one full-time and one part-time employee. The rest are volunteers.

Monetary donations are welcome, as are donations of items that can be sold in the thrift store or given to those who contact the nonprofit for assistance. Even purchasing an inexpensive item at the thrift store helps, Huskey noted.

All money spent at the thrift store or donated stays in Sevier County to help locals.

A recent fundraiser hosted by Buddy’s Bar-b-q brought in $3,069 for SMARM. The chain restaurant sets aside one day each month to give a portion of sales to a nonprofit.

What Huskey would most like to see is referrals. There are community members who likely do not know they can turn to SMARM for help.

“If you know of anybody — a neighbor, a coworker — please send them to us,” he said. “We want to reach as many as possible.”

The nonprofit is located at 103 Joy St., Sevierville.

To donate items to Bearded Sinners for their March 20 delivery to SMARM, email bearded sinners.tn@gmail.com.

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