And it is not limited to regions of disaster.
It is everywhere.
It is every day.
It is any time.
It is here, it is near and it is real.
No doubt, many in Southeast Tennessee will be reaching out to the people of these Asian islands with prayers and with gifts of love through an array of emergency service organizations that are already in the field of the beleaguered country, and will be sending thousands more in weeks to come. It is the Tennessee way to help others. It is an accepted part of life, and of giving, in our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown.
Of particular assurance is that local Samaritans will also keep their eyes on local need. The annual Southern Heritage Bank food drive — whose inspiring theme is “Cleveland Helping Cleveland” — has been underway since late October. The respected annual campaign is reaching its zenith this week.
Now in its 15th year, the drive’s food and monetary donations will support the work of Cleveland Emergency Shelter, the Harbor Safe House, the Signal Center, Neighbors in Need, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. All are United Way of Bradley County member agencies or working partners.
The days of nonprofits fending for themselves and looking after only their own — at least, in Cleveland — are gone. Now, most of our community’s humanitarian organizations find ways to help one another because they share a cause; that being, the families who call Bradley County their home.
For this reason, such drives as “Cleveland Helping Cleveland” succeed. Donors recognize the good of agencies working together. Even when their services slightly overlap, their outreach is mutual.
Through this week, food and monetary donations may be dropped off to any of the three Southern Heritage Bank locations: the main office on Keith Street, the Waterville Springs Office on Dalton Pike at Treasury Lane (near Walmart South) and the Georgetown office at the intersection of Georgetown Road and Villa Drive.
This closing week of the food drive climaxes Friday in the parking lot at the Keith Street office where donations may be delivered, and especially during a remote radio broadcast by WCLE. Photographs from this final day of dropoffs will be published in the Cleveland Daily Banner.
For those planning to make nonperishable donations, some of the food staples most needed include canned vegetables and fruit, soups, rice, beans, canned tuna and chicken, macaroni and cheese, cereal and peanut butter. Toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other personal necessities are also accepted. It is asked that these latter types of donations be packaged and delivered in separate containers from the food.
For transportation safety, items in glass containers cannot be accepted.
Southern Heritage Bank and United Way are blessed with several partners who are conducting food drives of their own. Some include Bender Realty, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland Pediatrics, Cleveland Utilities, Eaton Corporation, Hardwick Clothes, Manufacturers Chemicals, Peyton’s Southeastern, Cleveland Family YMCA and a slew of area schools. The Cleveland Fire Department and Wholesale Supply Group are providing in-kind support.
In the words of Southern Heritage President Lee Stewart, “We chose the time just before Thanksgiving as it is a great time to be appreciative for what you have and to give something back to help others not so fortunate.”
As we said, strife is everywhere. It can be found in the house next door where children are hungry. It can be found a world away where life lies in ruins.
Both sets of needs will be served ... because need knows no borders.