When a pickup truck collided with a horse-pulled buggy carrying the Shirk family on their way to pick blueberries at Liberty Farms in early July, a public outpouring of prayers, support and donations immediately flooded the Mennonite family.
It’s still going strong.
The Shirk family was traveling on Route OO early on the morning of July 11 when the buggy was hit, ejecting all passengers. Mervin Shirk, 7, was pronounced dead at the scene. Alice Shirk, 50, and Dorcas Shirk, 21, were seriously injured and airlifted to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. Miriam Shirk, 10, and Titus Shirk, 12, were seriously injured and airlifted to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Allen Shirk, 19, who was operating the buggy, received minor injuries and was treated at the scene.
The medical expenses are anticipated to be ongoing and immense.
Lesa Young and her fellow congregants of the Ladies Ministry of Cornerstone Community Baptist Church are joining the widespread movement of support for the family. They are organizing a barbecue benefit for the Shirks on Saturday.
The event is being catered by Miranda DeOrnellis, with whom Young has worked on a previous fundraiser to benefit an injured firefighter’s family.
Young said she was moved to help organize the fundraiser when the family’s plight was discussed at her church’s Ladies Ministry Bible study.
“Our pastor’s wife said she’d like to do something more to help the family. When I went home, I thought about, prayed on it and decided, ‘Let’s do it,’” Young said.
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The barbecue fundraiser will be held at Cornerstone Community Baptist Church, 3659 Route O, Park Hills, with music by the Dave Black Group and other special musical guests. Pulled pork sandwich plates, with two side choices of green beans, coleslaw or chips, will be available for $6 per plate or four plates for $20. Pre-orders are available 48 hours in advance, and group orders of four or more can be texted to Young at 573-915-7301 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More giving opportunities at the fundraiser will include silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and a quilt raffle.
Young said she’s been extremely pleased with local businesses’ generous response in providing donations for the silent auction. She said stores like Patsy’s and Hefner’s have donated furniture and décor for which she’s extremely thankful, and service-oriented establishments such as local salons have also made donations to be auctioned.
“I have about 45 donations right now, and more is still coming in,” she said. “This is what I love about Farmington, when something happens, the people all pull together. This just wouldn’t happen in a big city. I’m grinning from ear to ear just thinking about it.”
She added that she’s also received support from community members and businesses from Bonne Terre to Fredericktown.
More excitement is also being planned. Young said Survival Flight will be making a landing, St. Francois County Ambulance District will be there, and she’s inviting all area first responders to attend. An appearance by Paw Patrol will also be made.
“I’m anticipating a great turnout,” she said. “We reached out to the Shirks and received their blessing. This is God’s work and serving the Lord. It’s been an honor to have the family’s blessing, we’ve done our best to host the benefit in a respectful manner.”