‘It’s an easy sell’: Lake Mills Market fundraises thousands for late fire captain’s loved ones

‘It’s an easy sell’: Lake Mills Market fundraises thousands for late fire captain’s loved ones

As Fire Capt. Chris Truman is laid to rest Sunday, those in Lake Mills are helping the family he leaves behind in any way they can.

You can find a lot of heart in the Lake Mills community, and in a small town, a grocery store is at the center of it all.

“Everybody pitches in when there’s an unfortunate situation like this,” Lake Mills Market owner Mitch Eveland said. “It’s the focal point of the community.”

Hearing about Truman’s death after being hit by a car on the Beltline on New Year’s Eve made Lake Mills residents’ hearts drop.

“How terribly tragic and awful,” shopper Sherry Hanke said. “It’s very sad for everybody involved.”

“It’s hard to imagine the pain they’re feeling,” Joe Davis, of Lake Mills, said.

Truman was a common face in the Lake Mills Market and across the community.

“We get to know a lot of people,” Eveland said. “At first, I was shocked.”

Less shocking was the knowledge Truman died while trying to help a woman who crashed her car during a snowstorm.

“I don’t think anybody would be surprised by that,” Eveland said.

“He wanted to help everybody,” Hanke said. “I think that’s another reason people are stepping up.”

They’re stepping up by donating to a fundraiser for Truman’s loved ones at the end of their shopping trip.

“It’s an easy sell,” Eveland said.

For the majority of shoppers, it’s a yes without hesitation.

“A good 80 percent, 90 percent (donate), even if it’s just a dollar,” a cashier said.

In a day and a half, Eveland said they’ve raised more than $3,000 – another thing that doesn’t surprise him.

“No, our community’s pretty tight-knit,” he said.

That number doesn’t surprise others, either.

“No, not at all,” Hanke said. “Not here.”

“No, it doesn’t shock me at all,” Davis said. “Small communities pull together when tragedies happen.”

It’s that strength of heart the community knows will keep going.

“The compassion and love that’s shown by people in Lake Mills means a lot to the family,” Eveland said. “But in a few weeks when this all goes away, I think Lake Mills is the type of town that’s going to stick with the family long-term.”

“I think it will go on and on,” Hanke agreed.

Eveland plans to keep the fundraiser up for at least a couple more weeks. The money will go through the Lake Mills Fire Department to Truman’s fiancee, Amber Turfle, and family members.

The Lake Mills Culver’s is also holding a fundraiser in Truman’s honor. On Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the restaurant said it will donate 10 percent of sales to the Lake Mills Fire Department.

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