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April 30, 2014

April 30, 2014

For more information:
Scott Bird
Moxley Carmichael
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Bank donates $5,000 to Sevier County Veterans’ Emergency Fund in Thomas’ name

2014-04-30 Home Federal - Smith, Keasling, Thomas, Whaley

Home Federal Bank Executive Vice President Debra Smith (left) and President Dale Keasling name Makenzie Thomas (center) a Hometown Hero and the 2014 overall program winner at a ceremony at the bank’s Sevierville branch on Wednesday, April 30. Thomas designated her $5,000 award to Sevier County Veterans Emergency Fund. Sevier County veterans service officer Paul Whaley accepted the donation on behalf of the fund.

Home Federal Bank named Sevierville teen Makenzie Thomas a Hometown Hero and 2014 overall program winner and presented a check for $5,000 in her name to Sevier County Veterans’ Emergency Fund at a ceremony at the Home Federal Bank Sevierville branch on Wednesday, April 30.

In its fourth year, the Hometown Heroes program spotlights ordinary people who do extraordinary things for others and their community. Eight winners were selected for their extraordinary volunteer work based on nominations from area nonprofits and the general public.

A $2,500 donation is made in each honoree’s name to the nonprofit of his or her choice, and the overall winner of the eight finalists had an additional $2,500 donation made in her name.

“This is the fourth year of the Hometown Heroes community service awards program, and I continue to be amazed at the tremendous work being done by dedicated volunteers who quietly serve in so many ways,” Home Federal Bank President Dale Keasling said. “People like Makenzie, whose volunteer efforts reach individuals and even animals across Sevier County, exemplify what it means to be a Hometown Hero.”

Thomas, valedictorian and co-captain of her high school soccer team, is an accomplished student-athlete and dedicated community servant. Over the past four years, Thomas has donated more than 1,110 volunteer hours supporting local veterans, widows, infants, children and shelter animals.

Thomas has a four-year history of volunteering in the Dolly Parton Birthing Unit at LeConte Medical Center and the Trula Lawson Early Childhood Center. She also has led efforts to collect blankets for dialysis patients and an animal shelter; raised money to provide backpacks and pajamas to the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home; co-hosted events for local widows; and started a garden that provides produce for local veterans. The teen has served on several local boards, tutored fellow students and coached a children’s soccer team.

“Hometown Heroes affords us the opportunity to recognize some commendable individuals,” Keasling said. “Additionally, the program allows us to support many area nonprofits that do a lot of important work in our community.”

Sevier County veterans service officer Paul Whaley accepted the donation on behalf of the fund.

In addition to Thomas, the following have been named 2014 Home Federal Bank Hometown Heroes:

  • Elena Morales Ayuso, benefiting Catholic Charities of East Tennessee
  • Robert Ellis, benefiting Light Mission Pentecostal Church
  • Becky & Thurman Kinnebrew, benefiting Locked Down on the Outside
  • Elizabeth Koester, benefiting Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
  • Theresa Kropinak, benefiting YWCA Knoxville
  • Lori Bertelkamp McKelvy, benefiting Thrive Lonsdale
  • Dottie Thompson, benefiting Emory Valley Center

“We are happy to honor these Hometown Heroes,” Keasling said. “And we are pleased to support these programs that do such great things for our neighbors throughout the year.”

 About Home Federal Bank of Tennessee

Founded in 1924, Home Federal Bank of Tennessee is a locally owned, full-service bank serving East Tennesseans through branches in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Sevier counties. Every quarter since 1991, the bank has earned a 5-Star Superior rating – the highest possible – by independent authority BauerFinancial. For more information, visit

Maria Cornelius