By Lindsey Rae Vaughn
Don Cook of Grantsburg is helping those affected by the wildfires in Gatlinburg in a big way.
He has a semi-trailer in Vienna City Park collecting donations for those who have lost everything.
At first, Cook said he had a hard time finding a place that was big enough for him to park the semi-trailer once he got to Gatlinburg.
Finally, he got in touch with Smoky Mountain Ministry, who Cook said they would be “very grateful” for the donations.
Cook said some of the donations have been very heart-felt.
He said one woman came with all of her recently-passed husband’s clothes. They had moved to Johnson County from Tennessee not long ago.
The criteria for donations is anything that people use in daily life.
Items that have been donated are diapers, paper towels, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, clothes, toys, water and more.
One item that Cook hasn’t received yet is baby formula, which he said he would like to take.
This isn’t the first time Cook has helped those in need. He helped FEMA collect supplies for Houston during a hurricane in the past.
Cook said he wanted to help the people of Gatlinburg because his family had vacationed there multiple times.
“I’m not doing it for Gatlinburg, it’s for the people,” Cook said.
He plans on leaving Sunday for Gatlinburg and he wants the trailer full. He’s paying for fuel out of his pocket for the trip.
If it gets full and there are more items to be donated, he has another one he can use and will make multiple trips to ensure the people in Tennessee are taken care of.
Within a couple weeks, Cook plans on having a toy drive to donate to the children in Gatlinburg.
He plans to be set up again with his trailer in Vienna City Park.
Cook asks those who wish to donate to bring two new toys, preferably one for a boy and one for a girl, or two girl or two boy toys.
“I want something to give to the kids since it’s so close to Christmas,” Cook said.
Cook plans to remain at the park from morning until night for those who still wish to donate.