published Monday, May 13th, 2013

Concert to benefit Bledsoe County food bank

IF YOU GO

The concert will be May 24 at 7 p.m. CDT at Sequatchie County High School.

Shaky economic times are sometimes more poignant in rural areas because help is often far away or hard to reach, said Bill Wolfe, pastor at Lee Station Baptist Church in Bledsoe County, Tenn.

"We live in one of the poor parts of the state, and we want to help make a difference in people's lives," said Wolfe, who is among organizers of a May 24 fundraiser to benefit the church's Rick and Lois Smith Food Bank.

"Ivan Parker, who is a Southern gospel singer from Nashville, is coming to do a ticketed event for us to raise money for our food bank," he said.

The ministry's outreach has grown in the past few years and provides food and other necessities, Wolfe said. The food bank gets help from individuals, businesses and other churches in the Bledsoe-Sequatchie area.

Food bank volunteer and supporter Kara Upchurch, owner of Stephens Pharmacy on Main Street in Pikeville, said client families struggle constantly, particularly since Taft Youth Development Center closed last year.

"A lot of people come in here trying to pick and choose what they can buy," Upchurch said. "I think a lot of people just live from paycheck to paycheck."

The food bank needs donations more than ever, and the fundraiser later this month is the biggest effort yet to help, Wolfe said.

The gospel concert will feature Parker and regional gospel acts Ken Hicks, the Testimony quartet and the duo Jim Ricketts and Crystle Elam, Wolfe said. Parker is known for his songs "I Choose" and "Midnight Cry," according to his website.

Thanks to donations to pay the performers, the full $10 ticket price goes to the food bank, Wolfe said.

"Usually for an event by Ivan, it's $25. We placed the price so low so that everybody can afford to come," he said.

The food bank helps 20 to 40 families a week in Bledsoe, Sequatchie, Cumberland, Van Buren and Rhea counties, he said. "We even go to Soddy-Daisy."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times freepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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