PECULIAR, Mo. — Less than 24 hours after a firefighter was killed while battling a blaze in Peculiar, the local community began coming together to help his family.
Chuck McCormick, 30, was new to the community and had only worked for the West Peculiar Fire Protection District for three weeks. But as news of his death spread on Sunday, area businesses jumped into action, setting up ways to donate money to his family and fellow firefighters.
At the Country Mart, owner John Turnage said on Monday, three of his employees donated breakfast to the fire department out of their own pockets. After that, he decided to start a donation fund at the store.
All of the money raised will go toward McCormick’s family, which includes his wife and three children. On Monday, without any advertising, the store raised $461 from customers, Turnage said.
As of noon Tuesday, the fund had raised more than $800.
“It’s a big loss. He had a wife and three kids,” Turnage said. “I didn’t particularly know Chuck; I think he’s new to the community. But any time you lose a person like that, it’s a really big loss to the community and to everybody.”
Across the street from the grocery store, the Peculiar Lions Club will a host a pancake dinner Friday evening to benefit the fallen firefighter and those who lost their home.
"It's also needed, you know, because we never know when we're going to need help in life," said Jeff Gibler, a resident.
At the nearby Casey’s gas station, a jar was set out to begin collecting funds for the family and the fire department.
Employee Josephine Smith said the store started the two funds because firefighters, some of whom are regular customers, make a big difference to the town.
“A fireman’s job is important for the entire community, because any time they have to be called out to a situation, it’s always dangerous,” Smith said.