By Brooke Stevenson
The Seymour High School Band’s nonprofit organization “Just Givin’ a Little Back” is proud to say they were able to help more families this holiday season.
The year-old organization, which is run through the high school band, raises funds to help Seymour families that are in need during the holiday season.
Last year the organization brought in $1,500 to help four families and this year they brought in $2,000 and helped five families.
“With a down economy and all of the other stuff going on that is awesome,” said band parent Tom Fitzharris. “We hope to help more families if the donations keep on coming in.”
The organization is still taking donations and plans on helping families until the money runs out.
“We have already been able to help one more family than last year,” said Fitzharris, “and based on everything that is going on in the world right now I am excited about that.”
He added that Connie’s Kitchen, Z Mex Grille, band students, band parents and people in the community have really stepped up this year and have been key players.
The organization focuses on the holiday season, but if a family needs help during the course of the year they will try to help in any way they can.
“During the holiday season it is an opportunity for the kids to say thank you to the community and to all the people that help them throughout the year,” Fitzharris said. “Now the fun really begins because we are out there shopping and helping the families.”
One of the families that “Just Givin’ a Little Back” helped this year was Holly’s family and she asked that her last name not be used in the paper.
Holly is a foster parent in both Michigan and Tennessee and moved to East Tennessee with her oldest adopted son after her first husband passed away unexpectedly.
Her son was only four when Holly’s husband went into the hospital to get his appendix out and contracted the rare flesh eating disease that killed him.
Just months before his death, Holly’s mother had died and just a month after his death her grandmother, who raised Holly because her parents were alcoholics and drug addicts, also passed away.
“So after these three people that were very close to me died within a year of each other, I was panic stricken and full of anxiety,” Holly said.
She moved in with her cousin who lives in east Tennessee and she said she didn’t have the will to go back to school or work because she was so overwhelmed. So to survive, she used credit cards to support her and her son.
“Once I got back on my feet I got a great job at Extended Family Services,” Holly said. “Things worked out but I still had this credit card debt.”
Since then, Holly has remarried and adopted another child. Yet, her credit card debt loomed over her and her husband and they saw no other choice than to declare bankruptcy.
“The thing was, when you declare bankruptcy it costs a lot of money and I didn’t realize how much it was,” Holly said. “We had to pay $2,000 and it was due in December.”
This left Holly and her husband with no money left to spend on their five children for Christmas.
In addition to her two adopted sons, Holly’s husband has two children and another child also lives with the couple.
“My husband and I both work, but that doesn’t matter when you have to pay $2,000 suddenly,” she said. “I didn’t have the money to buy five kids gifts, let alone pay for extra food for Christmas.”
Holly went to several large organizations in the area to ask for help in getting presents and food for her family of seven for Christmas, but every organization turned her away saying that because of her family’s income she did not qualify for assistance.
“We will be back on our feet in a couple of months, but we needed help getting through this rough patch,” she said. “I didn’t want to tell my 11-year-old we had to put Christmas on hold until the end of January.”
Holly said that when Fitzharris called to tell her that “Just Givin’ a Little Back” was going to help her family that she was floored.
“What gets me is here you have teenagers, who usually get a bad rep, they are going out of their way to help people when all of these big organizations wouldn’t give us any help,” Holly said.
Last week Fitzharris took Holly’s family out shopping and brought them to the high school to watch the drum line perform.
“These kids are giving my kids Christmas,” she said. “These kids are feeding my family on Christmas.
“There is a happy ending to this story and without these kids there wouldn’t be.”
To donate to the “Just Givin’ a Little Back,” send a check made out to Seymour Band Boosters c/o “Just Givin’ a Little Back” to 732 Boyds Creek Hwy. Seymour , TN 378565 attn: Band Director, or call Fitzharris at (865) 919-6507, or email him at LTFITZ@att.net.
Band Provides for Families in Need
By Brooke Stevenson