Since tragedy struck last month in the form of a house fire, the Jerry Stanphill family has been showered with an abundance of love and support from the Thomson community.
Such was exhibited again during a fund-raising steak dinner at Thomson Fire Headquarters last Friday night. More than 600 steak dinners were prepared and sold - all of the proceeds going towards helping the Thomson assistant police chief and his family get back on their feet.
The steak dinner raised more than $5,000, according to Thomson Police Chief John Hathaway and Thomson Fire Chief Rick Sewell.
The family lost nearly everything they owned when a fire swept through their single-wide mobile home, located off Pylant Crossing Road on Aug. 18. Some of the guns that Mr. Stanphill had inside the home were damaged by the heat of the fire, but salvaged.
"The guns were about the only thing we were able to salvage," said Mr. Stanphill. "Everything else was pretty much lost to the fire."
The family also saved some winter clothing that had been stored in an outside shed.
Married to his second wife, Amy, the couple has an 18-month-old son, Jaxon. Mr. Stanphill, who has worked with the Thomson Police Department for a number of years, also has an older son by a previous marriage. The couple and their young son left their home to go shopping on the night of Aug. 18. Mr. Stanphill recalled seeing a glow through one of the windows of the home as he was pulling into the driveway.
"I first thought, well, we must have left the television on," Mr. Stanphill said. "As we got closer, though, we could see smoke coming from the house. That's when we knew our house was on fire. My wife used the cell phone to call 911."
After firefighters with the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire, the Stanphills discovered that they had lost many personal items, including photographs of their wedding, etc.
"The fire totally gutted the house," Mr. Stanphill said.
Since then, the couple and their young son have been staying at Austin Oaks Apartments in Thomson. This weekend, they plan to move into a rental house.
The Stanphills say they are humbled by the love and financial support received from hundreds of people throughout Thomson and McDuffie County, as well as other surrounding areas.
"It's unbelievable how many people have helped us after hearing about our loss," Mr. Stanphill said. "Many of those that have helped us are people we don't even know and have never met. That's why I love this town."