Heartland truck driver collecting supplies to deliver to TN wildfire victims

VIENNA, IL (KFVS) - A southern Illinois man is spearheading a collection effort to gather supplies for people affected by the Tennessee wildfires.

Don Cook, a truck driver from Johnson County, Illinois, said he and his wife frequently vacation in the areas now devastated by wildfire.

"They're nice people, they always give to us when we go down," he said.

Now he's looking to give back.

Cook rented a 53-foot trailer. He's it parked at the Vienna City Park and he's taking donations for those in need.

"Food, water, clothing, blankets, anything that anybody can donate," Cook said.

Cook has coordinated the delivery with Smokey Mountain Area Rescue Ministry, a religious organization based just miles away from the heart of the fire's destruction.

Dick Wellons, the group's president, said the destruction is unlike anything he's ever seen.

"It was a fire that hadn't occurred in over one hundred years," Wellons said.

He said hundreds of those affected are low income families who couldn't afford to lose what little they had.

"So now they have an economic situation that's going to be very, very difficult to overcome."

Making support from around the country that much more important.

"Don is very gracious to collect items that we need and items that the folks in our community can utilize," Wellons said.

"People losing their families and houses, it's heartbreaking," Cook said. "I'm just trying to give back to the people down there."

Cook said he'll keep the trailer there as long as takes to fill it up then he'll drive it down.

Cook is donating his own money for fuel and rent for the trailer. He's using his own truck to haul it.

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