Three months after deadly wildfires swept through Sevier County, one volunteer has collected and saved several “treasures” from one of the largest donation distribution centers.
It's been two weeks since the Boyd's Bear distribution center closed down in Pigeon Forge. The Rotary disaster relief center was a hub for donations from across the country, but it wasn’t just clothing and food that poured in.
Former supplies manager Wayne Morrison said with so much to handle and sort, some volunteers overlooked the tiny cards coming in from out of state.
"What some consider trash, I consider treasure," Morrison said.
He's gathered each of those tiny cards that came in the mail, including two packets of letters from Crab Orchard Middle School in Kentucky and Grant Line Elementary in Indiana.
"Most of them just say 'To Gatlinburg,’” he said. “When you read each one, it is so heartfelt and so individual from that one child."
They range from humorous to sincere, but Morrison said each card shows innocence, faith and love from children across the country.
"He says, ‘I don't know what it feels like to be in a fire, but it has to be pretty bad’," Morrison read aloud.
“I just know somehow you will get your home back,” another read. “Keep fighting and stay strong.”
Beneath the colorful artwork are themes like faith, strength and bravery -- ideals shown by every firefighter in the thick of the flames and every survivor rebuilding after losing it all.
"A lot of the things that these kids wished and hoped has actually happened. A lot of people have gotten better, gotten healthy, got their homes started back,” Morrison said.
He said it’s a reminder of the support across the country. He plans to deliver the letters to an area school or display them at a public location for the whole city to see.