Golden Gem Mercantile, located just between Freeman High School and the small town of Rockford, opened their second annual Fall Festival Saturday morning.
Amanda LaShaw realized right away that there is no denying the charm and comfort that comes with a tiny, close-knit town. Her husband and father in-law grew up in Rockford. Just like the many generations before them, the LaShaws decided their kids would grow up in Rockford too, and attend Freeman High. The family started their business just outside of Rockford and planted their family’s small town roots even further.
“When you live in a small community…. you know everybody in your children’s class, you know the parents, you know all of the teachers in the school,” LaShaw said.
Just like most, they never imagined a tragedy would shake their cherished small town to its core. When Caleb Sharpe decided to fire a gun, and change the Freeman community forever, LaShaw was among the parents waiting in agony for a call from her kids.
“To not know if your children are okay, it’s the worst feeling in the whole entire world,” LaShaw said.
LaShaw, unlike the mother of Sam Strahan, is one of the lucky ones. Now, the LaShaws are using all of the income from their Fall Festival this weekend to help the Strahan family and the other victims involved.
“They become your family. and if something happens to any of them, you’re there for them as they would be there for you,” LaShaw said.
Though LaShaw said there are no words she can give to those families who are suffering an unimaginable hurt that would heal their pain, the family chose to give what they can to help their little community.
Because in a small town, that’s just what you do.
“If this is a little piece of what we can help out with, then that’s what we’re here for,” LaShaw said.