Passers By Driven to Donate Thousands To Family

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Blount County (WVLT) -- People driving down Highway 321 Saturday morning had a chance to see more than just the scenery. Making that drive on Saturday presented the opportunity to stop at the Loudon and Blount County line and dig deep for a family who lost four loved ones in a devastating fire.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford has more on a fundraiser of boots and buckets.

It was too late to save Shelby, 7, Sinjin, 10, Jerry, 12, and Mandolin, 14 from the flames of their burning home last week. But Saturday was a new day.

"We're in business to help people," said Jim Berrong, Sheriff of Blount County. "That family has suffered just the loss of the lives, and not only that, they have suffered the loss of their house and basically everything they have.

Sheriff Berrong's Department was joined by other officials from Blount County as well as Loudon County and Friendsville to do their part to save the children's parents and their three year old brother.

Hundreds of drivers showed up during the four hour fundraiser to do their part as well. Leaning out rolled down windows the charitable people of East Tennessee filled boots, buckets, hats and whatever else emergency officials could find to the brim with donations.

"Hundreds," according to Fire Fighter Ralph Forester, "I've had people put hundreds and fifties and twenties."

"They're wonderful people," said Blount County Fire Fighter David Burton, " That's why we're the Volunteer State you know."

As the morning gave way to the afternoon calls came over the scanner, but there were always eager law enforcement and emergency services people ready to offer a warm smile.

When all was said and done the four hour fundraiser took in a remarkable amount of money, $35,856 to be exact. A check worth 100 percent of the donations will be given to the Debuty family this week, in the name of the people of East Tennessee.

If you didn't get a chance to donate to the family today, there will be a benefit concert next Sunday at the Kennedy Band Center in Knoxville at Four o'clock. The cover charge is $7 dollars and all proceeds go to the Debuty family.