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Local companies, residents help Tennessee tornado victims

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BMS Tornado Relief

Bristol Motor Speedway's Mark Dickenson unloads donated items Wednesday afternoon at the speedway.

Local businesses and residents are collecting donations and traveling across the state to help Tennesseans affected by this week’s deadly tornadoes.

Bristol Motor Speedway began collecting items Wednesday and will continue to do so through today. A tractor-trailer provided by Food City is parked at the speedway’s north entrance lot along U.S. Highway 11E.

Bottled water is no longer needed, but BMS continues to collect cleaning supplies, box cutters, non-perishable food items, toiletries, snack foods, trash bags, gloves, trash cans, formula and baby food, flashlights and batteries.

After tonight, the items will be transported to the Holy Rosary Church on Graylynn Drive in Nashville. The church will partner with the American Red Cross to distribute the items to those in need.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by this terrible tragedy, and just as we’ve done in the past when we see a neighbor in need we want to lend a helping hand,” said BMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell. “We’re grateful to our partners and friends in the community for rallying together to help support all of those affected recently by the devastating tornadoes in Middle Tennessee.”

The Nashville and Cookeville areas of Middle Tennessee were devastated by tornadoes on Tuesday morning, killing 24 and injuring many more.

The American Red Cross, which organized relief efforts, also has a number of people from Northeast Tennessee in the Nashville and Cookeville areas. Several people left from the organization’s Kingsport office Wednesday.

Food City, the grocery chain based in Abingdon, Virginia, is also helping. Customers can make donations at its checkouts at locations in Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia, through Tuesday. The company said 100 percent of the funds raised will be allocated to the Cookeville-Putnam County Tornado Relief Fund.

Another company, the Krazy Gringos, a Sullivan County-based food truck, traveled to Cookeville this week. Its owner, David Jessee, said they reached more than 1,000 people, feeding volunteers, search and rescue workers, utility workers, first-responders and residents.

“Just as many heartfelt thank you and smiles while fighting back the tears made for one of my best days of my life,” Jessee wrote on Facebook. “To see firsthand the shear awe of nature’s destructive power hits you hard. Watching people walk around in an almost zombie state touches you. It stirs your heart.”

rsorrell@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2531 | Twitter: @RSorrellBHC | Facebook.com/robertsorrelltn

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