More than a dozen businesses in Tipton County are stepping forward in a big way to help those in need as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the economy.

Lee Downing, owner of AireServ in Covington, is leading the way.

A couple of weeks he saw that Dustin Smith, the owner of Smith Plumbing Services in Bartlett, had started a non-profit called 901 Gives.


Smith got it started by asking people on Facebook to donate 50 meals a day for a week to help people struggling financially. The response was so overwhelming he formed 901 Gives and has raised almost $26,150 and fed 3,500 people in Shelby County.

Though Tipton County is obviously much smaller than Shelby County, the effort here has been just as impressive.

Downing has spearheaded an effort that has raised nearly $8,000. The money raised is given to local restaurants that provide the meals each day. One Way Café, Court Square Café, Spit Fire, Well’s Kitchen, Bald Butcher, Paradise Grill and JT’s Burgers and Wings have all taken part.

AirServ donated $3,750 for 750 meals. Dr. Jayson Cannon, Strickland Construction, Dottie’s Detailing, Neal Bringle of Woodmen Life, Jones Services, Mid-South Foot and Ankle Specialists, Wooten Law, Absolute Wireless and Turning Wrenches have all paid for meals.

JT’s will be providing 150 free meals per day through Saturday.

Downing and Smith advertise where the meals are going to be each day through various social media outlets.

“In our small community everybody has jumped in and wanted to participate,” Downing said. “I’ve always been big on trying to help people in the community. This time of year I’m typically giving all my money to ball fields, supporting community events. With everything shut down I’m not able to do it. I called Dustin and said, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this together?’ It’s just been a great partnership for both of us.”

Last Saturday 300 meals were served at Bald Butcher and last Friday 580 meals were given away at Well’s Kitchen. Many of the restaurants also donate meals to the cause.

Downing said there are funds to continue the program for two more weeks, at least.

“I just want to help as many people as possible,” he said. “As long as God allows we won’t stop.”

Jeff Ireland
Author: Jeff Ireland