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Be a Sweetheart in Knoxville on February 11 and 12

 
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On Valentine’s Day, we all want to do something thoughtful for our sweethearts. Why not double up and help someone you don’t even know have a hot, nourishing meal? It’s so easy!

This is the 14th year for Be a Sweetheart. The event was founded in 2004 when a need to fill their pantries was communicated by our food security partners. In the beginning, Mast Store matched each pound of candy purchased with our own pound of food. Then, because of the ability of our food banks and food rescue partners to stretch a dollar into more, Mast Store began donating $1 for each pound purchased. It was a natural tie-in to link Valentine’s Day, when many of us do something nice for someone we love, to supporting efforts to feed a desperate need in our communities.

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee is our food partner in Knoxville, TN. For the past 35 years, they’ve worked to expose the realities of hunger and its often devastating impact on the stories of each individual facing food insecurity.

On November 28, 2016, Sevier County, Tennessee experienced a devastating wildfire that damaged or destroyed 2,387 homes and 73 businesses, led to 14 deaths, and an estimated $500 million in damages. This disaster has left many citizens homeless and/or without employment, and they cannot provide food for themselves or their families. It’s anticipated that the need for increased hunger assistance will continue over the next 12 to 24 months while Sevier County and the City of Gatlinburg rebuild.
 
“When we woke up Tuesday morning and learned of all the tragic destruction and loss of life, it was a terrible experience.” says Elaine Streno, executive director at Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, a member of the Feeding America Network. “It was traumatic for many people in our community.”
 
be_a_sweetheart_5547.jpgSecond Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee will provide a highly effective way to quickly direct large quantities of food to those in need after this disaster. Last year, Second Harvest provided 1,971,065 pounds of food to Sevier County on an annual basis.  Due to the request of extended relief that continues to grow every day, they’ll distribute food to their network of partner agencies that can help reach people throughout the community that are in critical need of food and water.

“We put the word out that we were ready to help,” says Elaine. “The week the fires happened, the food bank provided approximately 8,000 meals to people impacted by the fires. The next week we provided about 40,000 meals.”
 
In addition to Mast Store’s donation, change collection jars will be positioned at each register. Even a few coins can have life changing effects. Our partners’ ability to stretch any donation is proof positive that a little can do A LOT! This year’s Be a Sweetheart event is coming up on Saturday and Sunday, February 11 and 12.

Click HERE to find out more about how you can get involved with the worthwhile efforts of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.