My sister Betsy Allison Tant and I are coordinating an emergency fundraising effort for John and Leslie Sholly and their five children. The Shollys just lost absolutely everything in a fire that destroyed their rental house and small business.

Here's the information on how you can help, and we would really appreciate it if you would help get the word out in our community about this family in crisis.


Katie & Betsy

kag's picture

I am so glad to hear this! I

I am so glad to hear this! I know they are very active at St. Joe's and Catholic High School, so I am sure those communities will rally 'round.


Tamara Shepherd's picture


Thank you for sharing this, Katie.

Please be sure the Sholly family is aware of help available through Goodwill Industries (and other of our local thrift stores, I think).

With documentation of their disaster--and those pix at your blog are adequate--the family is able to obtain a voucher to spend in Goodwill's store that will likely cover some immediate needs.

I believe the amount of the voucher is dependent on the size of the family in crisis.

When I helped a fire victim in my community last year, we took the Goodwill voucher to their Bearden store, which is their largest outlet among their six or so stores locally.

kag's picture

Thanks Tamara. I will

Thanks Tamara. I will absolutely make sure that John and Leslie are aware of this available help. very good to know. - Katie

Tamara Shepherd's picture


A couple of other tips may be handy, especially if the Sholly's are personally responsible for cleaning up that site (you mentioned their lack of insurance).

In this instance of helping an uninsured family vicitimized by fire in my community, I learned the following:

--I did some price shopping and found Waste Management to have the best price on a 20 yard dumpster, which was just over $200. It was delivered the day I ordered it and picked up a week later, per my directive. Do ask the dumpster vendor if this is the correct size unit for the Sholly's job.

--I scheduled a "work day" for the site clean-up and promoted it widely via e-mail and flyers, netting nearly 30 men and older teen boys on the "day of." Bring lots of extra work gloves and safety glasses.

--A neighborhood Hardees kindly supplied free sausage biscuits for "work day" volunteers. I anted up the coffee urn, filled.

--Our neighborhood water utility volunteered a single staffer and some much-needed equipment (power saws, torches) for the clean-up.

--A neighborhood Boy Scout troop, my son's, also volunteered for the clean-up, although only adult leaders and our boys over age 18 were allowed to participate. We were fortunate in that one of those leaders owned a Bobcat, which was necessary to load the dumpster with debris.

--During the site clean-up, we also employed a convoy of pick-up trucks to haul saleable scrap metal to PSI Metals (formerly Southern Foundry), netting over $500 for the victimized family. Caution: We had to make two runs and the wait time at the foundry proved to be about four hours each time.

--In the ensuing campaign to get this family "more stuff," a neighborhood self-storage business donated two months free rental on one of their storage spaces.

--Wal-mart donated several Rubbermaid-type storage bins for the family's use while they were in transition. Other volunteers worked to collect cardboard boxes for the same purpose, which is unfortunately yet another time-consuming task for the victimized family so harried with every other task on their plates.

--The Shopper-News was extremely helpful in featuring the victimized family's story in their paper--so much so that I was still getting calls offering donations weeks after the family had settled into their new digs.

The broad community support we saw arise for this family was extremely affirming, for both the victims and those of us working to help them.

I know you'll have the same experience. God Bless.

R. Neal's picture

I nominate Tamara to head up

I nominate Tamara to head up the Red Cross. Or FEMA.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Afterthought: If the Sholly's attend St. Joe's, possibly Our Ladies of Charity thrift store should be among their first contacts?

EconGal's picture

Katie, or someone, please let

Katie, or someone, please let me know if they have secured transitional housing.

PM me please, with an email address.

kag's picture

EconGal - I am PMing you with

EconGal - I am PMing you with my email address. Thank you! - Katie

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Randy: Ha, ha, but I assure you I was "learning on the job" in that effort! Why, until the fire, I didn't even know what a "settling torch" was, much less that I shouldn't have been transporting one in my car--along with its 4 foot tall tank of oxygen rolling around in my trunk--without a "hazardous materials" sign on both sides of the ol' Taurus! Fortunately, I lived to tell the story...

Katie: One last suggestion is that you might want to approach neighborhood civic clubs (Lions, Rotary, Optimists) for smaller, $100-ish, donations. We did some of that, too, polling people wanting to help as to their contacts. I went to high school with our neighborhood's Lions prez, for instance. See who among your volunteers is part of what larger "circles?"

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I said:

Why, I didn't even know what a "settling torch" was, much less that I shouldn't have been transporting one in my car...

Well, my good friend kredmond tells me, between breathless guffaws, that I am surely trying to refer here to an "acetylene torch."

If you don't wear a hardhat any more often than I do, you'll want to note it, lest you also appear to be a bloomin' idiot.

(Thanks, Kenny. Inquiring minds want to know.)

Sylvia Woods's picture

City has a "Courtsey Box".

The City has a Courtsey Box which is one of those big boxes that construction companies use to clean up your yard and house, etc. You can't put tires or concrete blocks in it but most everything else. Just call 311 and you will be transfered to get your name on the list. For emergencies you might get it faster. FREE. Just one of the benefits of being a city tax payer.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


That's good to know, Sylvia (and living outside the city, I didn't).

Here is what I found about the "courtesy box" program at the City of Knoxville's site.

It isn't clear to me whether the City allows in their boxes debris of the sort the Sholly's would need to load in their's...

NOTE THE RESTRICTIONS POSTED ON THE BOX: “NO” tires, concrete, rock, construction debris (siding, sheetrock, roofing materials, 2x4s, etc.), dirt, gas cans, paint cans, or chemicals, etc.

...but I suppose Katie or the Sholly's could call to confirm.

Then too, even if this particular program should prove to be one they can't utilize due to the nature of their debris, it's very possible the City could have another, similar program specific to fire/disaster clean up?

Or maybe the City's fire department advises/oversees this type of clean up?

We have no trash pick up nor fire protection either one out here, of course, so it slipped my mind that the Sholly's might have some FREE resources!

Bbeanster's picture

Since they are renters, I

Since they are renters, I very much doubt that they will be responsible for the cleanup.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I couldn't guess. The family I helped last year owned their mobile home, but rented their lot. They were responsible for cleaning up the lot.

Their choice was to clean it up themselves or to pay the property management company's charge for having it cleaned up (which they couldn't afford).

Also, years prior to that, a man who was my supervisor at work had a tenant accidentally set a fire in an apartment complex he owned. I recall that his tenant also had to pay for site clean-up, although my supervisor's insurance paid for reconstruction of the apartment unit. Whether that was possibly some condition unique to the tenant's lease, I don't know.

Bbeanster's picture

The Sholly family wasn't even

The Sholly family wasn't even home when the fire started, so it would be tough to pin the responsibility on them. Again, cleanup is going to be the landlord's responsibility. And didn't I read something about faulty wiring?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Ah, Katie did say that's the suspicion, I think. I'd forgotten about that.

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