Community shows support during Kauffman fundraiser
On a blistering cold Saturday morning Dana Samuelson left home for Troyer’s Country Market. He dug into his wallet, pulled out cash and happily turned it over to the cashier. Samuelson was just one of hundreds of people who purchased food and made a donation during a fundraiser at the store in honor of Marcus Kauffman.
The fundraiser, a chicken barbecue benefit, was hosted by the store, located at Statesville Boulevard, but organized by the members of the Salisbury Believer’s Fellowship Youth Group.
Kauffman, whom everyone called Marco, 25, died Dec. 20, three weeks after he was shot in the head subsequent to interrupting a break-in at his home on Chenault Road.
Four men have been charged with involvement in the shooting — two of them Khari McClelland, 23, and Jaylend Turner, 19, both face first-degree murder charges. McClelland’s brother, Tramel Hart, 18, and another man, Michael Teasley, 25, both are charged with felony accessory after the fact of murder. The men charged remain in the Rowan County Detention Center.
All of the money raised from the fundraiser will benefit Kauffman’s wife, Maryann, and unborn child. Maryann and other members of Kauffman’s family were not in attendance at the fundraiser, but they were certainly in everyone’s hearts.
Samuelson said he followed the story in the newspaper and felt donating to the fundraiser was “the least I could do.”
He said he found the whole situation heartbreaking and this was how he could help.
The church and many of its volunteers began setting up for the fundraiser early Saturday morning and withstood temperatures that reached 25 degrees.
Store owner, J.R. Troyer, offered his parking lot for the fundraiser. He’s been friends of the Kauffmans for some time. The Troyers and Kauffmans attend the same church.
“It’s a good example of the church and the commmunity pulling together,” Troyer said.
The organizers expected 350 to 400 pre-orders and lots more from people who just drove to the store.
Joe LaFave, owner of LaFave’s Construction in Landis, cooked the chicken for the fundraiser. He, along with his family and other volunteers cooked 800 pounds of chicken on five massive grills.
He simply did it because of “compassion for the family,” LaFave said.
He’s known the family for a number of years and attended the same church.
“Acts of kindness cannot replace the loss of life, it’s simply an expression of love for the family,” LaFave said.
Mosie Shetler knows the Kauffmans through his girlfriend and said he felt like helping was “what God wants us to do.”
Luke Popejoy, a deacon at Cleveland Believer’s Fellowship, where Kauffman attended, said he and his family wanted to support the Kauffman family.
“In the face of evil we’re seeing a lot of good,” he said.
He said many people have wanted to know how to help the family. There have been a number of fundraisers and individual donations given to the family since the Dec. 2 shooting. Popejoy said the outpouring of how the community stepped in to help has been “really amazing.”
Jonathan Mast arrived at 6 a.m. to help set up for the fundraiser and returned later in the morning with his family to purchase plates.
Will Sandridge heard about the fundraiser and wanted to show support to the family.
“I’m amazed at the response and the volunteers. It makes you think there are good people in the world,” Sandridge said.
Josiah Cook, whose brother-in-law J.R. Troyer, hosted the event, said he was friends with Marcus.
Cook and Kauffman attended the same church.
“She’s going to have a baby shortly. The church and the coming is doing all they can to help support. I just wanted to do my part,” Cook said.
Capt. Chad Moss, a Salisbury Firefighter, stopped by the fundraiser to pick up a number of pre-orders for two fire stations.
“I’m here to support a brother of the fire service,” he said.
Kauffman was a firefighter with the Scotch Irish Fire Department in Woodleaf.
Diana Karriker had followed the rise and fall of Marcus’ health through news stories and felt compelled to donate to help the family.
Kauffman’s family maintained a Facebook page, “Praying for Marco” where there were regular posts on what doctors were doing and how his body was responding.
“It’s really sad,” she said.
Karriker didn’t know the family, but felt connected to them.
“When you’re from Rowan County, you’re family,” she said simply.
The Scotch Irish Fire Department, where Kauffman was a member, will host a a similar chicken fundraiser Jan. 17 and 18 from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. at the station, 3220 Needmore Road, Woodleaf.
The plates are $8 and will contain half a chicken, baked beans, slaw, bread and dessert.
Also during the fundraiser, there will be a blood drive through the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas on both days.
Those who place orders may dine in or carry out.
Anyone interested is asked to order ahead by leaving their name, number and how many orders they’d like at 704-431-2559.
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