Bellevue woman donates to local school after losing everything in fire

WSMV's Lydia Fielder tells a story of selfless giving.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:42 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A woman who lost her apartment in a Bellevue fire donated over 60 bags of food to a local elementary school on Wednesday.

Kelsey Oliver, a life insurance representative for not-for-profit Woodmen Life, delivered 61 “helping bags” for food-insecure students at Shwab Elementary in Nashville.

Each bag contained a breakfast, lunch and dinner for students to have and share with their families while away from school over the weekend.

Oliver and her mom were displaced after a Sept. 18 overnight fire ripped through their building at their Landmark and Lyncrest apartment. Oliver’s unit was deemed a total loss.

“When you have adversity, the first step to resistance or resilience is going forward,” Oliver said. “As a representative, I had to assess what do I need most to do, and that is to continue the service of giving and finding out where I can meet the needs of greater Nashville, and what that looks like is being a part of something bigger than myself, which was the recipe for getting over the fire.”

Oliver said before the fire, she was in talks with the school resource officer at Shwab, who made her aware of the students’ needs. Woodmen Life’s initiative for October and November is fighting hunger, an inspiration for Oliver’s project.

“Your elementary school kid could come and have the conversation with a parent, guardian or loved one about what food and nutrition looks like to them,” Oliver said. “They can also be a part of that transition to feed themselves, feed their siblings and share what values nutrition has.”

Shwab Elementary Principal Dr. Cheryl Bowman said the students will be thrilled with the bags, which are adding to the donations from other resources the school receives weekly.

“We try to instill that into our own scholars here at Shwab, that, you know, that even though sometimes you have some obstacles, that you still have a giving spirit,” Bowman said. “So that is just huge that Kelsey thought enough of Shwabees here to still step up and do something for her community.”

Oliver said she and her mother are living in a different apartment building in the same complex while she continues to push ahead through company work and service.

“Nashville needs more than support. It needs understanding that you can start all over again, and it does take time,” Oliver said. “But that first step to resilience is the that first step forward to doing good.”