Chattanooga ‘Run with a Reason’ raises funds to support Angel Tree
By: David Ibata
Eager to “Run With a Reason,” Echelon volunteers and friends in Chattanooga, Tennessee, ran 123 miles to support The Salvation Army Angel Tree program.
The group raised $19,500 and provided gifts for 84 Angel Tree participants – up from 51 last year – as well as holiday meals for families in the program.
The brainchild of Kyle Briner, a senior accountant at HHM CPAs and service co-chair of Chattanooga Echelon, the inaugural Run With a Reason was held in December, 2018. The 2019 run took place Dec. 7 at Redoubt Soccer Association.
HHM and Echelon member employees organized the run. Runners were backed by sponsors who pledged a specific amount for each mile completed.
“Our goal is to provide a joyful environment for the kids and their families on Christmas that might otherwise have been impossible,” Briner said. “We might not know what struggles those sitting right next to us are facing. We hope our efforts can lessen the burden for some families in the Chattanooga and North Georgia area.”
The run was only Part I of the initiative. On Dec. 13, volunteers in festive clothing cruised the aisles at the Signal Mountain Walmart in Chattanooga, searching for gifts to fulfill Christmas wish lists.
Walmart provided a separate check-out lane for the volunteers. Store manager Daniel Casillas was an Angel Tree Program recipient when he was a child and is very passionate about the cause.
The fund-raiser came full circle when the Salvation Army volunteers distributed the gifts to Chattanooga and North Georgia families Dec. 18 and 19 at the Christmas Warehouse, 5000 Calhoun Ave. Participating households had registered with The Salvation Army in October, qualifying by income guidelines or due to extenuating circumstances.
Donnie Hutcherson, HHM managing partner, said, “It is great to see some of our newer staff build relationships with local organizations. When Kyle came to me with the (Run With a Purpose) idea last year, I could see how passionate he was about it.”
Briner and Chattanooga Echelon members look forward to keeping the momentum alive and strengthening the program.
Echelon was founded in 2010 in Dallas, Texas, and now has 24 chapters across the US. For information on Chattanooga Echelon, visit https://chattanooga.salvationarmyechelon.org