For Jimmy Parks, trash turns to cash

Jimmy Parks, left, receives $292 from Kelbi Maggard, 10, who raised the money through a recent bake sale.

One man’s effort to keep the community clean helped a good cause.

What started as a small fundraiser grew into something much more. Jimmy Parks, a former Loudon City councilman, could be seen picking up trash March 1-May 31 along Highways 11 and 72.

“I just picked it up because the side of the road needed it,” Parks said. “My wife and I were through Philadelphia one day through the back roads and trash was just blowing all over the place and I thought, ‘Why is all this trash here?’ Wanda said, ‘Why don’t you pick some of it up?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m going to walk and I’m going to send $200 to St. Jude so I’ll just pick up 200 bags of trash, give a dollar a bag after every bag that I pick up.’ … Next thing you know I just had people stop me along the side of the road and give me money for St. Jude.”

The end result was 200 13-gallon trash bags filled and money going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Parks said people gave as they were able and local businesses also provided support.

When Parks and Wanda traveled June 11 to the hospital in Memphis, they were able to give $5,202.

“All those kids are going to benefit, the families, too,” Parks said. “The families that go over there worry about their kids. They don’t have to worry about if they’re going to eat, where they’re going to eat, where they’re going to stay. They’re taken care of, and they’ve got to worry about is their kid.”

Parks, a resident of Loudon County for 72 years, wasn’t surprised by the support.

“People in Loudon will help out,” he said. “People in Loudon are giving people. They’re good people.”

One of donations came from 10-year-old Kelbi Maggard of Lenoir City, who in May held a bake sale that collected $292.

“She’s all into baking, that’s her biggest thing, so she wanted to bake and her neighborhood really helped her out,” Lindsey Branam, Maggard’s mother, said.

Shortly after starting the sale, Maggard’s neighbors in the Harrison Glen subdivision helped buy her baked goods “pretty quickly,” Branam said.

“I decided to do it because I love to do these things for charity and it breaks my heart that kids have to go through cancer that are at my age and younger,” Maggard said.

Parks said he enjoyed getting out and picking up trash for a good cause, enough so that he hopes to do it again in the fall and potentially in the spring. He doesn’t know what charitable organization will be the beneficiary, but he said he’s willing to take suggestions.

“I’m sure there’s other organizations and if I do it again this fall, I’ve been thinking about either doing it for Make-a-Wish (Foundation) or Shriner’s or maybe go to even Alzheimer’s is a good thing to donate to anymore,” Parks said. “I’ll start again in the fall for maybe a month or so picking up trash because the streets need it.”

To offer suggestions, call Parks at 865-458-3668 or 865-755-7074.