Bridget Jones: Commitment to kids

Beth KinnaneNorth Knoxville, Our Town Neighbors, South Knox

While she certainly has a busy planner, this Bridget Jones doesn’t keep a diary. On this particular Tuesday afternoon, she had run home a bit early to load the dishwasher and change clothes for an evening work event.

At this time of year, “work event” often means dressing up for a holiday party or fund-raiser. And while there have been plenty of those in her job as director of development and corporate events with Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley (BCGTV), this one was a little bit different.

Bridget Jones

Last night, unbeknownst to them, some teen residents of Montgomery Village, accompanied by staff of the Boys and Girls Club of Vestal, got a surprise shopping trip to Academy Sports. Each child received a $250 gift card to shop the store for new winter clothing, footwear, games, sports equipment and more. Academy Sports also presented a $1,000 gift card donation to BCGTV to shop for additional gifts and other needs.

Jones is also preparing for another event Thursday afternoon, the Behind the Blue Doors Tour at the Regal Teen Center Club on Irwin Street. The event starts at 4 p.m. and is open to anyone who would like to attend (please RSVP first, though). And while it is not a fund-raiser, per se, securing future donations is part of the impetus behind it.

“We do these on a monthly basis, so this will be the last one for 2021,” Jones said. “We look at these tours as a way to build sustained relationships. Often, we never get around to making a real connection with our donors. This is a way for them to see what their money is actually supporting, how it’s making a difference in these kids’ lives.”

The Covid-19 pandemic gave the BCGTV a moment to step back and reassess its approach to fund-raising, she said, during a time their daily operations changed drastically.

“We never shut down,” Jones said. “We adjusted our hours to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (normally 2-6 p.m.) to accommodate those parents in need while schools were virtual. We had police, EMS, nursing staff and those kinds of essential workers who needed help … We had kids doing full-blown school at our club.”

The pandemic put an extra strain on staff as BCGTV had to put the brakes on volunteering for everyone’s safety. Covid also “pulled the plug” on its bevy of fund-raisers.

“That gave us the opportunity to re-think how we do things,” Jones said. “Pre-Covid, we were doing 24 events in one year. We’re moving to doing fewer, more streamlined events going forward.”

But have no fear, the 2022 Gift of Hope luncheon is still on schedule and will remain a featured annual event.

Jones has worked with Boys and Girls Clubs for 17 years, since she was 18, starting in Greeneville where she grew up. Though she attended college to become a teacher, she remained after graduation when an internship turned into a paying job. She’s been in Knoxville for eight years now, and said work with the BCGTV is truly a calling.

“Staffing has been a struggle, as a non-profit trying to stay competitive with pay,” Jones said. “We’re looking for people who really believe in this, because you have to deal with a lot of things. You have to be committed to this kind of work.”

To make a donation or to learn more about Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley go here. To explore job opportunities, go here. For more information on the Gift of Hope luncheon go here.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for

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