A penny here, a dime there and a quarter here - most people might not think that change can change a person’s life. The recipients of the Hearts and Hands Scholarship Fund know that loose change can positively make a difference.
“We wanted to start something that could help the kids in Townsend,” said Dorothy Storey, one of the charter board members of the Hearts and Hands Scholarship fund. That fund began in 1994 with an appeal to area businesses to put money jars out to collect spare change for a scholarship fund.
Storey said the first year they collected $450 and had two students apply for the scholarship. They awarded each student $225. Storey said at first she was discouraged and wondered what good that amount would do, especially considering the astronomical college tuition expenses.
“The recipient said she managed to get grants, and the scholarship helped to buy books,” Storey said.
Once Storey understood that it made a difference in a student’s life, she was even more motivated to raise more money the next year.
“I know the importance of an education,” said Storey, a retired school teacher. “I feel like if I can help them continue their education, it’s one thing I can contribute.”
And contribute she does. At 85 years-old, Storey still goes around to area businesses picking up the money jars, counting the money and making deposits. She said the money jars add up. On an average year, she collects $1,200 to $1,500 each year from the jars.
She doesn’t despair if a jar has a penny. In fact, on a recent collection trip, she had one penny in a jar, but she said she took it, and she was thankful she had because otherwise, she would have lacked a penny to complete a roll.
In addition to the money jars, the Hearts and Hand Scholarship fund participates in the Fall and Spring Townsend festivals by having a booth for a bake sale and cake walk. Storey said they collect approximately $1,200 to $1,500 a year from the proceeds of the booth.
The scholarship fund also raises money with a yearly rummage sale. Storey said that from her years of teaching school, she knew rummage sales could be lucrative. The first two years, she held the rummage sales in her backyard. Then Kinzel Springs Baptist Church donated their Fellowship Hall. Storey said in the years following, their rummage sale took over the entire church. After they outgrew the church, the Townsend Elementary School provided space for the sale in their gymnasium.
“We encourage people to clean out their attics, barns and basements,” Storey said. Last year the rummage sale was held at Cowboy Tubing on Highway 73 across from the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center. Plans are being made to hold this year’s rummage sale at the same location during the second week in October.
Storey said she likes the rummage sales because it gives people an opportunity to buy items at a bargain. “The prices are ridiculous,” she said. She explained that parents can buy an entire wardrobe for their children, especially since shirts are priced around 25-cents a piece.
Storey said local hotels donate items like linens and furniture. After the sale, any remaining items are donated to Mission of Hope in Sevierville.
“Pennies do make dollars,” Storey said.
And college scholarships help students become teachers, nurses and even an actor. Storey said that many scholarship recipients keep in touch and have become successful in their fields of study. Thomas Webb, son of David and Ann Webb of Townsend, is a scholarship recipient who graduated from the University of Tennessee. He majored in music and drama and is in Hollywood and appearing on various television shows.
So far, the Hearts and Hands Scholarship Fund has provided 221 scholarships to 109 students for a total of $118,600. That’s a lot of pennies, nickels and quarters.
Susan Pasquini is president of the Hearts and Hands Scholarship Fund Board. She said the scholarship board requires that the student must be a Townsend resident and be accepted to an accredited school. After the first year, scholarship recipients can reapply for up to four years if they maintain a C average. The scholarship fund awards $500 to freshman, $600 to sophomores, $700 to juniors and $800 to seniors.
This will be the second year that an additional $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a student who has performed extraordinary community service. Pasquini said they named the award The Dorothy Storey Scholarship.
“We chose to name it after Dorothy because she has done so much for the community,” Pasquini said.
Pasquini and Storey attribute the success of the Hearts and Hands Scholarship Fund to the Townsend community.
“It truly is a community effort,” Pasquini said. “So many in town participate, and the businesses have been especially supportive.”