By Ryan Richardson
Globe Staff Writer
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Terra Gleason didn’t know what to expect Saturday evening when the doors opened at Mount Hope Church of Christ.
She had helped organize a chili and spaghetti fundraiser and auction to support the Washburn family of Asbury.
More than 200 people attended, and Gleason on Sunday estimated that the event raised at least $9,000. That includes at least $850 donated via a website, washburnfamilybenefit.myevent.com.
“It looks like we are off to a great start,” Gleason said.
The fundraiser was another community effort to help the family. John Washburn, his wife, Deborah, and their daughters Abby, 19; Samantha, 13; and Karli, 12, were involved in a head-on collision in January on Interstate 44 in Jasper County when another driver was traveling the wrong way.
John Washburn was killed in the crash, and his wife and daughters suffered serious injuries and have been in and out of hospitals since. The other driver, of Tulsa, Okla., also was killed.
Gleason, who graduated with Deborah Washburn from Carl Junction High School in 1981, decided to help organize former classmates and others to support the family. Several Carl Junction alumni stepped up to gather raffle and silent auction items, in addition to the food for the event.
Jackie Lewis is another 1981 Carl Junction graduate who volunteered to serve during the event. She said the fundraiser drew support far beyond what the group imagined.
“This isn’t just a Carl Junction thing anymore; it is everywhere,” Lewis said. “That has really energized us here to see so many people who were touched by this story and who have opened their hearts to a family that they don’t know, but they have heard their story.”
Lewis said volunteers came from as far away as Oklahoma City to assist with the event.
Janice Myers, of Joplin, joined the fundraiser on Saturday. She said she personally does not know the family.
“We know their name, and we know their story,” Myers said. “My family went to this and to the Jazz and Java fundraiser because we want to help. The turnout each time has just amazed us. This is all of our communities pulling together to help one another.”
The Jazz and Java fundraiser last month in Carl Junction was attended by more than 1,000 people and generated more than $16,000 for the Washburn family.
TO MAKE A DONATION to the Washburn family, people may go to washburnfamilybenefit.myevent.com and click on “donate.” Contributors’ names and amounts may optionally be displayed along with a message to the family. Donations will be collected at that website through the end of the month.
ARVEST BANK also is taking donations for the family. People may mail a check with the words “Arvest Cares Washburn” on the memo line to Arvest Bank, P.O. Box 460, Joplin, MO 64801 or make a contribution at any Arvest Bank branch.