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Non-profit groups discuss Pilot's impact on East TN

8:36 AM, Apr 17, 2013   |    comments
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As the investigation of Pilot continues, local non-profit groups watch from afar as to how it will affect an organization that has given millions of dollars to East Tennessee charities.

The first Pilot gas station popped up in 1958 and ever since then the company and the Haslam family have made a lasting impact on East Tennessee.

In 2006, Jim and Natalie Haslam gave the University of Tennessee its biggest individual donation ever: $32 million. Just a few years later, in 2009, school leaders and students gave the family a standing ovation outside of the new James A. Haslam II building.

In February, Pilot also donated more than $42,000 to the Salvation Army. Jonathan Haskell, development director for the Knoxville area Salvation Army command, said the money does a lot for his group.

"It really keeps our programs going all year round," he said.

Pilot's charitable influence has also molded East Tennessee's parks landscape, according to Legacy Parks Executive Director Carol Evans. In 2008, the company gave the City of Knoxville and Legacy Parks $1 million to expand and improve the city's parks and greenway system.

"That was their decision," Evans said. "It was a very personal decision."

With an investigation at Pilot ongoing, however, Evans said she will reserve her judgement on the case.

"I think we should all just appreciate what they have done and wait to hear the rest of the story," she said.

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