How to Support Nashville After the Christmas Day Bombing

Here are some easy ways to chip in.

Perhaps no city is more anxious to put 2020 in the rearview than Nashville. The year started out with a deadly tornado tearing through the city, followed by the ongoing COVID crisis that struck particularly hard on a town that is so dependent on tourism dollars to stoke the fires of its white-hot economy. Then, in May, a bizarre straight line wind event known as a derecho swept across the city, knocking out power for more than 100,000 homes. 

In what the city prays is the final gutpunch, in the early morning hours of Christmas Day, Anthony Quinn Warner parked his RV packed full of explosives in the middle of Second Avenue and detonated it with himself inside. Miraculously, his was the only life taken, but the losses to the downtown and surrounding areas were massive and will be ongoing. Historic buildings lining the street were damaged or destroyed, and windows were blown out at businesses and residences as far as four blocks away. A major AT&T switching center was right at ground zero, and the resulting destruction has knocked out cell phone service, television, internet, and 911 emergency capabilities across a wide region.

Most of the buildings damaged by the blast along Second Avenue were former warehouses with entrances facing the river. This configuration proved to be a godsend as six brave Metro Nashville police officers entered the residences, while an eerie countdown timer emanating from the RV warned them to evacuate the area ahead of the explosion. These heroic public servants evacuated the sleepy residents through the back side of the building in less than 10 minutes, getting them all to safety and shielding them from the effects of the blast.

While this prevented loss of life, the scars from the event will run deep for a long time. Most of the affected buildings were small businesses—including bars, restaurants, and shops. This year has already handed them plenty of revenue loss, and business disruption insurance is a sketchy hope at best to rise up from the literal ashes. Many of the residents along Second Avenue worked in these businesses, and are currently without places to live. 

Fortunately, Nashville has a tradition of helping out its own, as seen after the 2010 flood and tornado this past March. While there’s no doubt that the residents of Music City will again rise to the occasion to help the town recover from another tragedy, we’re not afraid of a little outside help either. If you have a love of Nashville or you just want to spread a little love around the holidays, here are some ways you can help out the city from afar.

Contribute directly to affected businesses and employees

Several crowdfunding efforts have already been established to help offset lost revenue and wages from businesses shattered and shuttered by the bombing. While some foodies might look down their noses at touristy restaurants like The Melting Pot, these spots employ our neighbors and distribute most of their profits locally in the form of paychecks, payments to food and beverage vendors, and rent. They’re worthy of any and all support.

Also, consider donating to sweet shop Bartella, the staff at sports bar Buffalo’s, Brazilian steakhouse Rodizio Grill, and family-friendly Italian chain The Old Spaghetti Factory. Three locally owned businesses—Ensemble Nashville Boutique, Pride and Glory Tattoo, and Simply the Best $10 Boutique—have combined their fundraising efforts and you can donate here.

Of course, individuals have been greatly displaced by the damage, including Etch’s chef de cuisine Jess Lambert and musician Drew Lambert who lost their home. Industry worker Glodline Young and her fiance, Nate, are expecting their entire block to be torn down. Additionally, a special fund has been set up specifically for Second Avenue bartenders and musicians.

Donate to rebuilding and recovery efforts

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has established the Nashville Neighbors Fund which is accepting donations for grants that will be awarded to local nonprofits to allocate to the immediate and long-term needs of those affected by the bombing.

The American Red Cross is always one of the first to the scene of any disaster, and they immediately stepped in to help displaced residents find shelter the day of the explosion. Box 55 is a small organization that focuses on providing food and drink to first responders on the scene of disasters, and they’re looking for donations to help feed workers during what is sure to be a long recovery effort.

The Community Resource Center is collecting tools and supplies to assist with the cleanup of the area when the scene has been cleared by investigating authorities. They’re seeking both monetary and direct donations of items like shovels, rakes, work gloves, flashlights and hand warmers.

Plan a future trip to Nashville

Music City will bounce back, and soon Nashville will be ready to welcome visitors back to the urban core. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant post-vaccination future, the bustling honkytonks of Lower Broad will again be overflowing with guests from around the world enjoying the live music and hospitality of Nashville.

Until then, browse around the official Visit Music City website and also all of our Nashville coverage and start making a wishlist of attractions and places you’d like to experience on your next trip to Nashville. We’ll be ready to welcome you with open arms.

Chris Chamberlain is a contributor for Thrillist.