‘Contributor’ vendor donates paper profits to East Tennessee wildfire victims

Dec 13 2016
Posted by: Staff
‘Contributor’ vendor donates paper profits to East Tennessee wildfire victims

By: Amelia Ferrell Knisely

Mario, a formerly homeless vendor of The Contributor, recently donated a portion of his paper sales profits to the victims of the fatal East Tennessee fires. Mario, along with his dog Bear, made the donation to the Smoky Mountain Wildfires Telethon aired by WSMV Dec. 2.

“Bear and I know what it feels like to lose your home and your business,” Mario said. “If it weren’t for my Contributor customers, I wouldn’t have been able to have a home now. I just wanted to pay it forward.”
Mario began selling The Contributor in 2012 and Bear often accompanies him at his usual spot in the Jackson Downs Shopping Center in Donelson. He purchased a home earlier this year with profits from selling The Contributor and his lawn care company, “Bear Care Lawn Service," that he started with his paper profits. 
Officials say the wildfires killed 14 people and destroyed more than 1,700 homes in the resort town of Gatlinburg. After Mario heard about a telethon to benefit the victims of the fires, he saved portions of his Contributor profits for three days in order to make a donation. He and Bear visited Highland Park Church, the live site of the telethon, to make the donation in person.

Bear poses with Terry Bulger and Rudy Kalis of WSMV.

“It made me feel good (to donate) because when I fell on hard times, and Bear and I lived in a barn until we got our house, we have been blessed. People have helped me out and been very generous just by buying my papers,” Mario said.

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