Thursday, August 10, 2006
Countians come together
By SUE WATSON
What started out as plans for a fish fry benefit for the family of Morgan Shaw turned out to be a wall-to-wall outpouring of community support for the fund-raiser for the 6-year-old injured in a kidnapping and assault several weeks ago.
An estimated 2,500 catfish, barbecue and spaghetti plates were sold Saturday afternoon and an auction and raffle and individual donations poured in, according to Tammy Covington of Waterford.
Planning for the benefit by Covington, Margie Minor and Jason Huey began just over a week ahead of the Saturday event and support snowballed the last week as the benefit was broadcast over several radio stations, Covington said.
“I was overwhelmed Saturday when I walked down to the railroad track and saw how many people turned out. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Lots of people came, picked up plates and left and others made donations.”
Covington believes 3,000 people or more may have poured into Waterford for the benefit.
Every single item - food, drinks, plates, napkins, the tents, stage, floodlights, items for raffle and auction and labor - was donated, she said. All proceeds go directly into the special fund set up for the Morgan Shaw family at Merchants & Farmers Bank of Holly Springs.
Entertainment for the event was provided by the Thomas Singers, Webb Dalton and the Dalton Gang of Memphis, Kenny Brown, Mitch Stone, and David House and Corey Garner of Waterford.
“Hallelujah, praise the Lord!” were heard frequently during the gospel singing.
The Thomas Singers offered personal testimony saying they take no credit for their musical ministry. God gets all the glory, the Thomas Singers said.
Praises from the community
“It is wonderful, wonderful, a great cause,” said Judy Howell, one of many Holly Springs residents who journeyed to Waterford on a hot summer afternoon to support Sidney and Jennifer Shaw, parents of Morgan Shaw.
“I’ve had a wonderful day, today,” said Rose Fitch of Potts Camp. “The music is great and it is such a wonderful blessing.”
Shirley Smith of Potts Camp agreed.
“It is really nice,” Smith said. “The Lord has blessed me. We may not see it all (understand) right now, but we will.”
“I think it is a noble thing you can do,” said Richard Boyington, who was among many who raised their hands in praise during the gospel singing.
“Jesus is still alive in the hearts and minds of this community. Only He can keep a baby alive after what she went through. I praise God because it’s a miracle.”
“We just came out to support,” said Frances Jamison, who was accompanied by her husband James.
They are from the Potts Camp community some 10 miles east of Waterford.
“We have grandchildren,” she said. “No child should have to go through this.”
Jim Robinson of Byhalia, who served as emcee, expressed family sentiments.
“Morgan’s family is amazed and very humbled at the people who turned out,” he said.
“We’ve had a good day, a real good turnout,” said Leslie Yeager of Waterford. “It is a good surprise.”
The Yeagers were on hand to help with search and rescue the day Morgan Shaw disappeared from her home near Laws Hill.
District 5 Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett praised the people of Marshall County for pulling together.
“People complain, Marshall County this, Marshall County that, but there are people in Marshall County you never see except at something like this,” he said.
“We didn’t pay for one thing,” said Covington. “Everything was donated. When we started this we just wanted to do just a simple little fish fry just to help the family out. Last week people started calling from all over the Mid-South - from Memphis, Bartlett, Batesville, Horn Lake and out of state.”
Covington said people were calling to offer help after hearing the benefit aired on KIX 106 in Memphis, some Tupelo stations and even one Birmingham station.
“It was just overwhelming - just the number of people offering help,” she said.
“This community came together because this could have been any one of our children. The family could not believe it. They said there would be no way to thank everyone for what they have done.”
The story of Morgan Shaw has touched many people, Covington said.
“We want to do something we can do to help make their lives easier so they can take care of what they need to do,” she said.
Almost no one can remember all the names of the many who contributed to the success of the benefit at Waterford.
Some of those whose contributions were remembered include the following, those who worked in near triple-digit temperatures for hours Saturday to make this benefit one for the record books in Waterford.
Besides the entertainers and their support staff, this incomplete listing was drawn up.
Security and traffic control was provided by the volunteer fire departments including Waterford, Potts Camp, Cayce, Barton and Victoria fire departments.
Barbecue was donated by David Hinshaw; fried catfish and the works was provided by Sheriff Kenny Dickerson and prepared by numbers of his staff; spaghetti was cooked by members of the Waterford community; several volunteers from Wal-Mart helped; Tammy Wells of Waterford and friends from Laws Hill collected donations; on-site transportation was provided by Tommy Hewlett, who drove the tractor and trailer brought from Red Banks by Sammy Huey; pavilions and chairs were provided free by someone who wished to remain anonymous; Mark Haney provided the stage; and flood lights and generators were provided by different individuals from the Waterford community.
Michelle Keel sold T-shirts with all proceeds going to the Shaw family fund.
Twenty-seven items were donated for auction or raffle including a ball cap autographed by Archie, Eli and Peyton Manning; Ole Miss donated jerseys and a football signed by coaches and four football tickets; Mississippi State donated autographed footballs; Ronnie Shaw donated two barbecue grills; and Phillip and Mildred Shaw of Oxford donated a barbecue dinner for 100 people.
To make personal or corporate donations to the Shaw family fund, contact Merchant & Farmers Bank in Holly Springs at 662-252-1341.
(662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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