JOPLIN, Mo. —
A rummage sale last weekend for the family of a survivor of a May 2 traffic accident proved to be “very successful,” according to Paula Mitchell, the survivor’s mother.
“It was amazing to us how giving people were and how supportive people were,” said Mitchell, whose 22-year-old son, Jake, is recovering from extensive injuries he suffered in the accident three months ago. “It was just an amazing turnout.”
Jake Mitchell was driving his motorcycle in Joplin when a vehicle pulled in front of him. He suffered a traumatic injury to his brain and spent the next 23 days in a coma at Freeman Hospital West before being transferred to a Springfield hospital. Although they maintain permanent residency in Joplin, Jake and his parents currently live in Springfield, where Jake spends several hours each day in therapy and rehabilitation.
Saturday’s rummage sale, which netted nearly $2,100, was organized by the Mitchells’ friends to help defray the family’s costs of commuting between Springfield and Joplin each week and keeping a house in each city.
“That caught us up,” Paula Mitchell said of the amount raised. “That made us so we could breathe a little bit this month.”
The sale attracted not just shoppers seeking a bargain, but it also drew a crowd of people who specifically wanted to visit with Jake. Paula Mitchell said that even when Jake grew uncomfortable in the triple-digit temperature, he could not be persuaded to go inside the air-conditioned house because he wanted to talk to everyone.
Some of Jake’s nurses with Freeman Health System came to see him, she said. A few families that had loved ones in the hospital’s intensive care unit at the same time Jake was there in a coma also showed up. And some visitors were survivors of similar accidents and injuries who wanted to share words of encouragement with Jake.
“It helped him see that people are thinking about him and that people do care, other than his mom and dad and church family,” Paula Mitchell said. “I think him seeing people who had been in accidents that had been catastrophic — they’re up and out and going to garage sales. They look normal; they talk reasonably normal again. I think that probably helped him more than anything.”
Organizer Jennifer Dunn said a handful of people had donated items for the sale, and about 200 people showed up. Her 8-year-old daughter, Sierra, also raised about $50 by selling peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies that she had baked herself, she said.
Paula Mitchell said she was particularly grateful for Dunn, and Robyn and David Horner, who provided the space for the sale, and Forest Park Baptist Church for the volunteers and support.
Leftover sale items were donated to Mission Joplin, an outreach program of Forest Park.
PAULA MITCHELL said anyone wanting to send cards or notes of encouragement to her son, Jake, may send those to 532 S. Ozark Ave., Joplin, MO 64801.