An unlikely duo in East Tennessee has teamed up to help people in need. West Towne Christian Church in Knoxville is working with Ole Smoky Mountain Moonshine in Gatlinburg to donate buckets to Haiti.
West Towne member Stephen Chen came up with the idea after a recent ministry project at the church. Members were building walls to build a church in Haiti, when ministry coordinators explained another need for the country.
“The biggest need they have right now are 5 gallon buckets with handles,” said Chen.
Luckily, Chen knew where to find a large amount of those buckets. His son, Stephen Chen, works for Ole Smoky Mountain Moonshine. The distillery gets more than one hundred 5 gallon buckets each week with their maraschino cherry shipments.
Of the distilleries seven types of alcohol, moonshine-soaked cherries is a favorite among customers.
“We typically like to let them soak for 2 to 3 weeks and after that we like to call it a party in a jar. Its, pretty good stuff,” joked the younger Chen, Jamie.
Between the church and the distillery, both father and son recognized an opportunity to help.
So far, West Towne has made three trips to Gatlinburg. Members use the church van to haul buckets and tubs from the distillery. However Stephen said an easier haul is in the works.
“We’ve gotten some donations from some people at church,” he said. “We’re going to be buying a box truck very shortly, and hopefully that will be more user-friendly.”
The arrangement has caused more than a few giggles. Stephen, a non-drinker, also sees the irony.
“It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, you know? What does a Tennessee distillery, a church, and Haiti have in common? And you’re just waiting for the punch line,” he said.
West Towne will store the buckets at the church until they have enough to fill a large shipping container. Then, missionaries with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission will arrange to have the supplies shipped to Haiti.
If there is a punch line, says Chen, it has a more serious undertone.