Knoxville Catholic charity provides help to rural thrift store

Knoxville Catholic charity provides help to rural Campbell County thrift store

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NEWCOMB (WATE) - It's a routine they follow every Thursday morning. Faithful volunteers Ted Denning and Dr. Phil Perkins get ready to haul a trailer packed full of goods, including clothing, dishes, lamps, and food like pastries from Fresh Market and Panera.

For the two men, dedicated Knights of Columbus members, their journey this day will last nearly 5 hours. Leaving from St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Farragut, then traveling the interstate to Campbell County, Denning and Perkins have logged thousands of miles.

"This last year we made 82 trips up here. I made about 45 of those, I guess," said Dr. Perkins.

They headed to a place called Crazy Quilt, a thrift store sponsored by Catholic Charities. The store is in the heart of one of East Tennessee's poorest communities: Newcomb, just south of Jellico where unemployment hovers around 13 percent.

"We've been picking up more and more food, especially bread, so we go up at least twice a week now sometimes three times a week," said Perkins.

When they pull into Newcomb, the travelers are met by a small army of helpers. As the unloading begins, there are boxes of clothes and bags of food and furniture all given by so many generous people in and around Knoxville.

The people who will benefit, mothers and grandmothers, proud people who know a good bargain when they see it.

"It's very special for me, very special," said Denning. "I know that people need it and I can help a little bit. I know there is a lot of people that give it. They get the credit."

Even though the economy is in a slump, East Tennessee generosity is not.

"There's so much giving by the people out there, it surprised me," said Perkins.

If it wasn't for Perkins and Denning's dedication to the people at Crazy Quilt, those who run the store said there wouldn't be enough to go around.

"It would be hard for us to come up with enough stuff for the people," said Ed Bryant, a manager at Crazy Quilt.
   
With their trailer empty and Crazy Quilt filled with new supplies their journey this day is over. And in their humble way, the men are pleased.

"I'm just glad I do the little I do," said Denning.

Crazy Quilt is an outreach of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. For Newcomb, an isolated area of Campbell County, the store is the only social service network that provides basic needs to the people there.

 Father ragan schriver  | catholic charities exec. Director
<father ragan schriver, catholic charities ex. Dir:

"There is so much attention to urban poverty, and there should be, but sometimes in that need to urban poverty we forget about the rural poor which is so much of our east tennessee region here," said Father Ragan Schriver.

Father Schriver is grateful for men like Perkins and Denning.

"They work their tails off," he said.

"The thrift store would never work without their constant funneling things in there."

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