Danville teacher heading to Gatlinburg, bringing gift cards for first responders

Published 1:49 am Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Danville Christian Academy teacher is among a group going to Gatlinburg this weekend to help those who help others — the region’s first responders.

“We want to make sure that the people who are directing us, the first responders, are also taken care of,” said Brittany Crutcher.

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The group is focusing on taking gas cards; gift cards to Walmart and Lowe’s and similar stores; and toys for kids.

WATE.com reports that over 1,700 acres were burned in the wildfire that started in the Great Smoky Mountains on Nov. 23. Despite the efforts of firefighting crews, air response and more, the fire spread, due largely to the wind, burning through the region, forcing evacuations.

By Nov. 30, crews had the fire mostly under control and were searching through the remaining rubble. Residents and property owners were allowed to return on Dec. 2, WBIR.com reports.

First responders worked through it all, Crutcher said, and have continued to work since — that’s their job and that’s why her group is going to try to focus on the first responders.

“They’re used to being the ones there to say, ‘go here,’ ‘go help these people.’ Our job is to make sure they are getting help, too,” she said.

Many members of the group are first responders themselves and understand that side of things firsthand, she said.

Crutcher and others in the group have also worked in the international mission field.

“It’s one of those things that’s really hard to see. It takes someone who is strong and willing to go,” she said.

“Regardless of where the need is, it’s our job to jump in and say, ‘You’re not alone; we’re going to help you.’ There’s always going to be people who need a hand at some point. I hope there will be someone there for me when I need a hand.”

Crutcher can accept donations for her group through Thursday night at Danville Christian Academy. They will be leaving early Friday morning.

Crutcher plans to return to the Gatlinburg region after Christmas, this time on her own, to volunteer again.

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.