Written and submitted by Pat Heinemann and Sarah Ransom
In the heart of Laurel Bloomery, there is a group of women that focus on serving and making a difference in their community. During their first meeting, the Laurel Family and Community Education (FCE) club’s ladies decided to make lap protectors for Mountain City Rehabilitation Center residents. As the year went on, they decided to repeat their 2019 Christmas Project for Laurel Elementary students. However, with COVID-19 entering the scene, it changed many of their plans and shifted the way things would need to be done.
With the rise of COVID-19, masks became a great need across the county. The FCE ladies jumped into the project of sewing homemade masks. Over the next few months, these ladies sewed and donated more than 500 masks to county organizations and individuals. With mask demand down, the Laurel FCE Club ladies began to reorganize for the lap protector project. After several months of cutting and sewing, the ladies donated 80 lap protectors to Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center residents. The staff and residents received them well, and everyone was quite pleased with how they turned out.
The service from these ladies continued with the Christmas project for the children at Laurel Elementary. Adjusting their project to meet health and safety restrictions, they decided to pack boxes for each child with goodies and items they could use. The club began working with local connections to garner donations of supplies and financial support.
“A special thank you to Ace Hardware for furnishing t-shirts for each child, Food Country for providing Halos and apples for each child, Mountain Electric for pencils and coloring books, 421 Creamery donated Kiddie Scoop Gift certificates, Farmers State Bank provided pencils and toys and Parkdale for donating toys and games for all the children,” Pat Heinemann, Laurel FCE President, said. “We also are so grateful to have received monetary donations from Stout Plumbing, Stateline Baptist Church, Garden Barn, Big John’s, Tim Brown, Susan Kylie, Nina Beth Steele, Jimmy Phipps, Snippets Beauty Salon, Darrius Carbary, Linda, and Jim Neely, Humphreys Masonry, Ruth, Terry, Billy and Bobby Thomas, Tate and Sarah Davis, Farmers BBQ, Doris Rupard, Marsh Propane, Jane Taylor, Johnson City Bank, Barbara and Lester Mallet, WMU and Van and Sue Neely. Thank you.”
The Laurel FCE Club is one of two Family and Community Education Clubs that are sanctioned through the University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University Extension. As a club, they try to help areas in their community with anything they may need. A bonus is that their volunteer hours convert back to support for the local Extension office, which provides many additional opportunities for our students. For more information about the FCE Clubs and opportunities to get involved, please contact the Johnson County UT/TSU Extension Office at 423-727-8161.