The sixth annual United Way Public Service Hamburger Luncheon raised more than $10,000 and fed more than 1,200 people on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher chairs the committee that organized the event and said planners were surprised by the response considering the slow economy.
“We served about 1,280 hamburgers and raised over $10,000. We thought this year, with the way the economy was, things would be down. It was down in the number of people we served but we were able to get participation from some businesses to help sponsor it,” he said. “That helped us reach our goal of $10,000. That is what we set our goal at each year.”
One of the businesses that came on as a sponsor was McAllister’s Deli in Alcoa. “We got 10 percent of the lunch proceeds from them in September. Others like Rural/Metro Ambulance Service and State Sen. Doug Overbey were also major sponsors,” said Hatcher.
Hatcher said an exact total wasn’t available as of yet. There is still ticket money out that committee members are collecting. “Blount Count citizens are just amazing when it comes to stepping up and helping worthy causes. They always do and that’s what happened this year,” he said.
The planners changed the routine this year, and the event went off as well if not better than in previous years. “Our planning was better,” said Hatcher. “We weren’t scurrying to go get things we ran out of.”
One way they made the process go better on the day of the luncheon was the volunteers got together and had a Packing the Produce Pizza Party the night before the luncheon. They put the lettuce, tomato and pickles for the hamburgers into individual baggies so people got through the line quicker. “We had a great time with the fellowship and joking around. The camaraderie is part of it,” he said. “There’s lots of us from different agencies who knew each other and being able to come together for this has helped us grown to be close friends.”
Hatcher praised the volunteers who donated their time. “We had more help than what we really needed, and everybody pitched in,” he said. “It was another successful event.”
Blount County Vice Mayor Dave Bennett returned with his popular Fried Twinkies, and Knoxville Mayor and gubertorial candidate Bill Haslam showed up and helped the firefighters cook some burgers.
Aaron Killian, communications and marketing coordinator for United Way of Blount County, said the luncheon has become an annual event the public enjoys.
“It’s one of those events where the whole community gets together and pitches in with the goal of creating change in Blount County. Every single dollar raised stays in Blount County,” he said.