Helping hands

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Covington County residents raised more than $3,000 Wednesday to aid the family of Geneva County Deputy Josh Myers, whose 31-year-old wife and 18-month-old daughter were murdered during Tuesday’s tragedy in Coffee and Geneva counties that claimed the lives of 11 people, including the gunman — 27-year-old Michael McLendon.

Listeners of WAAO, who initiated the drive, were touched by the Myers family’s plight. In addition to losing his wife and daughter, Myers’ 3-month-old daughter Ella is currently awaiting surgery for a leg injury and is listed in stable condition.

“The support this community has shown has been amazing,” said WAAO’s Blaine Wilson. “Being in law enforcement myself, I can only imagine what it would be like if my wife had to face this situation. It’s devastating and we all knew we had to do something to help.”

Carolyn Neal, whose son Chris is a Florala Police Department officer, said she had to donate to the cause.

“He’s the only son I’ve got,” she said. “It just tore my heart when I heard about that officer losing his family that way.

“I had to donate,” she said. “I had to help.”

Wednesday afternoon Wilson and wife Andrea were able to personally deliver the $3,371 raised to Myers at his Samson home.

“He was there with his 4-year-old son, trying to maintain some normalcy,” Wilson said. “He had family there and they were outside playing ball — across from where his wife was killed.

“He was just in shock,” he said.

Wilson said Myers sent his thanks to the Covington County community.

“He was very appreciative and said they were going to do their best, and keep on hanging on,” he said.

The fund-raising wave will continue today as motorists traveling East Three Notch Street Thursday can donate to aid all the victims of Tuesday’s rampage in Geneva and Samson. The drive will begin at 6 a.m. and end at 9 a.m.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson and fellow council members, members of the Covington County Sheriff’s Reserve and Posse, as well as APD officers will line the street in front of WAAO to collect donations. Congressman Bobby Bright will arrive at 7 a.m. to lend his assistance.

McLendon’s victims were identified as his mother, Lisa McLendon, 52; his uncle, James Alford White, 55; his cousin, Tracy Michelle Wise, 34; a second cousin, Dean James Wise, 15; and his grandmother, Virginia E. White, 74. Also killed were James Irvin Starling, 24; Sonja Smith, 43; and Bruce Wilson Malloy, 51.

“We know we can’t change what happened Tuesday, but we can make a difference today,” Wilson said.

Additionally, a community yard sale is planned Saturday in the parking lot beside WAAO. Residents are urged to bring their items to sell and donate “whatever they can” of the proceeds to the victims’ families.