Michael Grider
Staff Writer

Efforts are underway across Knoxville to accommodate an influx of evacuees from the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast and to provide continued support for the relief efforts in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Organizations across the city are working together to provide aid to the evacuees that have made their way into East Tennessee. The majority of these efforts are being coordinated by the Knoxville chapter of the American Red Cross, but there are many other organizations working to provide relief for the hurricane victims.
Food City, Home Federal Bank, Davis Newman Payne and a number of Knoxville media outlets are working together on a relief effort dubbed “Tenn Days of Relief” that started on Sept. 3 and will run until Sept. 13. Food City donated five trucks that were filled with supplies during the first three days of the relief effort to help Hurricane Katrina’s victims. Donation boxes will be set up at all Home Federal Bank locations for the remaining seven days of “Tenn Days of Relief.”
The trucks, filled with supplies, were shipped to two cities in Mississippi, Lumberton and Jackson and also to Mobile, Ala. Tuesday morning. The supplies that were shipped to Lumberton are going to be focused on those victims in Mississippi, while the supplies sent to Jackson will then be shipped directly to New Orleans, and officials said the supplies shipped to Alabama will be used to help victims from that state as well as victims from some parts of Mississippi.
Support from the Knoxville community has been impressive.
“People who have nothing have come and given,” Shari Folk, vice president of account services at Davis Newman Payne and a volunteer for the “Tenn Days of Relief” effort, said.
”It’s great to be a part of the volunteer spirit that we have in this state, it’s one of the things we can be most proud of,” said John Huskey, a Knoxville resident who stopped by the Food City trucks parked in the West Town Mall parking lot to see what supplies were needed on his way to the store.
Members of The University of Tennessee football team and men’s basketball team were on hand at West Town Mall Monday evening for the second ever “Orange Aid.” The players and coaches met fans and signed autographs from 6 to 7 p.m. for those making a donation to the Red Cross.
“It’s an opportunity for the people to see the players under the helmets, to get to know them, and to know that we care about what’s going on besides football,” Jayson Swain, wide receiver for the Volunteers, said.
The impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast region has been felt throughout the Volunteer football family.
“A number of our players are from those areas, or have family or friends that are there, so I thought it was only natural and appropriate that we do as we’ve done in the past — try to help out,” Phillip Fulmer, head football coach, said.
The sense of urgency was not lost on Fulmer or any of the others who worked to organize the event.
“Everybody put this together in a real short time,” he said. “I think we started talking about it last Wednesday or Thursday, and a lot of people worked hard to set this up. It’s just turned out to be a wonderful thing.”
As Knoxville prepares to receive evacuees from areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, donations of money and supplies are not the only resources needed. Volunteers are needed to staff various shelters that will be housing Katrina evacuees.
Some evacuees have already started making their way into Knoxville, but close to 800 are expected to arrive today. Five hundred evacuees will be housed at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum, and 250 will find shelter at the Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in west Knoxville. The effort is expected to require 150 volunteers each day, working four-hour shifts three days in a row to maintain the CSPC shelter alone, Nancy Holstad, church member and wife of associate pastor, said.
Volunteers will be required to take part in a mandatory Red Cross training session that is needed to prepare them for the services that they will be providing. Furthermore, Holstad said the Red Cross was expecting about 500 would-be volunteers to show up for training, but instead, more than 2,000 attended the training session Monday night at CSPC.
A number of area organizations like the Compassion Coalition and various churches are taking part in the training of volunteers and the housing of evacuees. The City of Knoxville, Knox County, the Knox County Health Department, KPD, Second Harvest and KCDC are among the many organizations helping to coordinate the services that are to be provided to Katrina evacuees in Knoxville, Chris Davis, director of public relations for the Knox Area Red Cross, said.
“We’re basically working on the short-term, with an eye toward the long-term,” he said. “This experience is totally unique to everyone responding,” Davis said.
Those who wish to volunteer are encouraged to visit the Knox Area Red Cross Web site at http://www.knoxarc.org.