Food City names district winners for volunteerism

Betsi JamesOur Town Eats

Each year, Food City recognizes outstanding volunteerism among its team of associates through the Claude P. Varney Volunteer Recognition Program. The district winners will be recognized with a $250 contribution made to their charity of choice. Two divisional winners will be selected to receive a plaque and a $750 charity contribution. One overall winner will receive the Claude P. Varney Humanitarian Award and a $1,250 charitable contribution.

“Food City is committed to the communities we serve. Many of our associates volunteer their time and talents to assist charitable organizations throughout the region and we’re proud to recognize their efforts,” said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “We’re extremely proud of the difference our associates make in their community. Food City is committed to providing the support they need to become the best possible corporate citizens.”

The program is named in memory of Food City’s former president and board vice-chair of 47 years, Claude P. Varney, who was well-known for his tremendous compassion and humanitarian services. An independent panel reviews nominations. One winner is selected from each Food City store. Those winners then compete at the district level, where 13 overall district winners are selected. Meet the four district winners from the Knox TN Today zone:

Jennifer Benn, of White Pine, was selected from District 5. She volunteers with the VFW Auxiliary for about 20 hours per week and has done so for nine years.

Serving as treasurer of the auxiliary and district chaplain, she is in direct contact with veterans and their family. Projects include homecooked meals for those sick or disabled; porches and/or ramps for disabled veterans; and the Christmas shoe day when shoes, candy and toys are given to children of veterans in need.

Sarah Fennell, customer service coordinator of the Food City Store in Blaine, Tennessee, is involved with four group that make Grainger County hum.

TN Promise/TN Achieves: For 16 years, Fennell has helped high school seniors apply for college or trade school.

Grainger County 4-H: For 35 years, she has worked with fourth and fifth grade students as a classroom resource for club meetings, a judge in competitions and a mentor in life skills.

Grainger County Tomato Festival: For 25 years she has volunteered – sunrise until dark – to showcase the county’s talent and businesses through the festival. She is treasurer, chairs the commerce and crafts, makes sure each vendor has a spot to set up and designs the festival’s map.

Grainger County Farm Bureau women: For 35 years, Fennell has worked to promote home agriculture by demonstrating farming at events and helping develop local businesses.

Peggy Reynolds, seafood coordinator at the Hardin Valley Food City, represents District 7 and is committed to two nonprofits:

Backpack Ministry to the Homeless: For 24 years, she has led this organization which she founded. “She felt a need to help and this is what she came up with.”

She collects donated blankets, socks, toiletries, etc. and fills 50 backpacks a month which are delivered to the homeless population each third Wednesday.

Lost Sheep Ministry: As a member of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church, Reynolds has volunteered with this ministry, founded by the late Maxine Raines in the late 1990s to provide a weekly meal for people living “under the bridge” in downtown Knoxville.

Teri Lott, certified pharmacy technician who works at the Clinton Food City, represents District 8. She was nominated because of her volunteerism on behalf of children: specifically, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center in Memphis, Project Linus and LAROC – Lakeshore Area Radiation Oncology.

Her co-worker said she often sits in her car while on breaks and knits little caps and booties for babies in neonatal intensive care. “Her Healing Shawls and blankets provide comfort and peace to patients undergoing cancer treatment and others who struggle physically and/or emotionally.”

Betsi James is special events manager for Food City’s Knoxville and Chattanooga divisions.


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