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First responders, public step up for Chadbourn officer

Revised on: 07.17.2018 at 10:08 a.m.

Posted on: 07.17.2018 at 11:00 a.m.

By Jefferson Weaver

jeffersonweaver@nrcolumbus.com

An early morning fire Saturday destroyed a Chadbourn Police officer’s home in Whiteville, but by Sunday, dozens of donations were pouring in to help the family of five.

Tavon Pierce has been an officer with Chadbourn for just a few months, Chief Anthony Spivey said. The Saturday morning fire was reported around 5 a.m. in the family’s apartment on Clay Street.

Several adjacent apartments were evacuated, but no injuries were reported. The Pierce family, however, escaped with just the clothes on their backs.

Spivey, who lost his home in Hurricane Matthew, said it’s hard to describe the feeling of helplessness caused by such a loss.

“Tavon is a good man, and a good officer,” Spivey said. “He’s a hard worker, and devoted to his family. Nobody got hurt, thank God, but this is still a tremendous blow.”

By 5:30 a.m., Spivey said, officers from Chadbourn and other departments, along with firefighters, were “lining up” to help.

“We’re all a family,” he said. “When one of us hurts, we all hurt.”

While officers were delivering food and supplies to the Pierces at their temporary home Sunday, other first responders were sweating on the busy main thoroughfares in Chadbourn.

Chadbourn-Klondyke Fire and Rescue member Frankie Blanton is being credited with organizing Sunday’s “Fill the Boot” donation drive.

“We all help each other when there’s an emergency,” he said. “Fire, police, sheriff’s office, rescue, we’re all family. This was just something we could do to help Tavon and his wife and children in a really bad time.”

Chadbourn police and firefighters were joined by volunteers from North Whiteville, Evergreen, and Whiteville Rescue at the intersection of Strawberry Boulevard and Joe Brown Highway beginning at 11 a.m. Large signs asked for donations for the officer and his family.

Firefighter Zach Faulk was one of those standing on the steaming pavement in a safety vest, collecting donations from both local drivers and beach traffic. Joey King and Ramona Sweerus worked in tandem on the west side of the intersection. While not a member of the department, “Miss Ramona” as she is known ran boots full of change and currency to a Chadbourn ambulance. The emergency vehicle also acted as a rehab station for the sunburned volunteers.

Mayor Phillip Britt, who worked the south end of the intersection, said the response was just another sign of the strong sense of community in Chadbourn.

“We’re proud of our police,” he said, “and people appreciate what they’re trying to do. At the same time, we have a caring community, and people just want to find some way to help.”

Even strangers passing through were generous in their donations, Spivey said. By 3 p.m., Spivey said, around $5,000 had been raised.

“Nobody carries cash anymore,” he said, “but we had people digging up change, pulling out anything they had. People just driving through heading to the beach or heading home, they’re giving what they have. Nobody wants to see someone going through a tragedy like this.

“It’s sad that it takes something like this to see it, but there are a lot of good people left in the world.”

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