Despite the heat, more than 100 volunteers spent their Saturday giving back to wildfire victims.
Earlier this week, the Mountain Tough Recovery Team broke ground on the first of 25 new homes being built in Gatlinburg following the November fires. On Saturday, volunteers from across East Tennessee spent hours building walls for those homes in the first-ever community build.
"It's really nice for strangers to just join together, with different skill levels, and just make something happen," Kathryn Cardo, a volunteer from Gatlinburg said.
Even with little experience, constructing the walls wasn’t too difficult. Instructions and diagrams were included in each pile of already-cut ply wood.
Of course, each volunteer had their own reason for helping with construction.
"Everybody was affected in some way. It's hard to see your neighbor suffer. It's hard to see people you love suffer and I think we all have a responsibility to help each other out," Cardo said.
Michael Feely came all the way from Franks, Kentucky.
“We've had forest fires where we are and I have a lot friends that work in this area and just wanted to be part of something to make a difference," Feely said.
Volunteers fabricated between 120 to 150 walls Saturday. That's enough to build at least 6 homes.
Several groups, including Volunteer East Tennessee, the Mountain Tough Recovery Team and the United Methodist Holston Conference joined the effort Saturday to help the Appalachia Service Project build the homes. ASP president and CEO Walter Crouch said the walls will make a huge difference.
"This is going to help speed up construction," Crouch said. "With all the walls built you can just come out and set the walls in place, get the trusses on quickly and so this will actually save us a couple days."