Last Sunday, the Cabi clothing company distributed almost 1,600 pieces of clothing to help women who had lost everything in the Gatlinburg wildfires last year. The company designs and sells women’s clothing so their foundation strives to assist and empower women. As a Cabi collector/fanatic myself, I knew this, but was still impressed that they would come to our area to help. Taking a chance tthat they would let me cover the story for this blog, I went to the Holiday Inn in Pigeon Forge on Sunday morning to check it out. Not only did they allow me to cover the story, I was able to stay and lend a hand. What an amazing day! Here is what happened.
I saw the Cabi logo and knew it was the right place. Cabi stands for Carol Anderson by invitation,’ after the company founder. She worked at Nordstrom at one time, then decided to start her own company. I have been a fan for over a year so I knew that this clothing event was a big deal.
The volunteers wore Heart of Cabi T-shirts sent by the company to help identify the helpers and stylists. Stylists pictured here from left to right are Lisa Bitzas, from Seymour, and Diane Beshears, from Knoxville. Does Lisa’s name sound familiar? She is a music teacher in Seymour who is married to George Bitzas, the incredible tenor who has sung the National Anthem for the Vols football games. A Vol fan, I was thrilled to learn this fact!
Check-in was easy and smooth. With each arrival, I could sense that the shoppers had been through a terrible ordeal, yet had great resilience. I heard bits of their stories of that frightening night. Pregnant mothers almost trapped on the mountain as their husbands were stuck in town. A lady told of looking out her window that evening to see fire quickly approaching the home and recounted their escape. Several Latina ladies told of leaving their homes with only the clothes on their backs, with no change of clothing. Not even a change of underwear.
This was an invitation and announcement for the clothing event. Many participants had it in hand as they walked through the door. I ended up staying for the entire event in order to interpret for Spanish speaking victims of the wildfires. Several of the older Latina ladies were so happy with their new clothes and told me that they were going to wear them to church.
Stylists are ready to assist shoppers. Event organizer, Dana Headden, is pictured on the left.
A retired teacher from Pi Phi was delighted with her Oatmeal sweater. As she left, the teacher said, “Something new gives you a lift. It made my day.” Her friend departed, saying “thank you so much. We appreciate it.” A shopping helper told me that the shoppers came out of dressing rooms either crying or saying how thankful they were.
Two volunteer helpers were from our community. I saw Amy Harper and Cheri Schmutzer assisting many ladies at the event. There was not a lot of time to talk, but I quickly determined that Amy and Cheri are Cabi fans too.
By the end of the event, Cabi had given away almost 1,600 pieces of clothing. What little remained was donated to A Hand Up For Women, a charity in Knoxville. Only about 200 pieces remained, the rest went home with those who lost everything in the December wildfires.
I was so glad that I was allowed to attend, and even assist, the Cabi clothing event. The relief and gratitude of the ladies who received clothing was blessing to all who were there. This event certainly made a difference in their lives and replaced some clothing that was lost to the fires. It clearly demonstrates the Heart of Cabi foundation is the ‘real deal.’
We appreciate you.
With many thanks, from Sevier County.