Community rallies behind family that lost home to fire

In a personal time of need, especially around a holiday, a community is capable of coming together to help its own.

Seymour police Officer Gilbert Carpenter and his family are experiencing that love and support firsthand from close friends, coworkers and family members to mere acquaintances and even strangers.

The family lost their rural home northwest of Cortland and most of their belongings in an early morning fire Sunday.

Just hours after the blaze, the Seymour High School football program organized a drive at Bulleit Stadium from noon to 3 p.m. to collect clothes and other items the family needed. The information was shared on Facebook, and from there, the donations began rolling in.

Zach Carpenter is a senior at the high school and was a standout running back on the football team this past season. His sister, Haley, is a sophomore and plays soccer.

Football coach Josh Shattuck said after learning the Carpenters would be staying with family, the team wanted to focus on making sure they had toiletries and basic essentials.

“We wanted to make sure and get the sizes for the family members out there so people knew what they needed,” Shattuck said Sunday afternoon. “We put it on social media and let people know we would be here accepting donations.”

The drive was successful in collecting more than $2,000 in cash and gift cards, along with bags of clothes, shoes and toiletries.

Two GoFundMe accounts have been set up, one by fellow officer Devin Cornwell and the other by Gilbert Carpenter’s cousin. Those efforts combined have resulted in $9,520 being donated.

“It’s just amazing how much this community can come together, and we are all so grateful,” Zach Carpenter said.

Gilbert Carpenter is a 14-year veteran of the Seymour Police Department and also is a volunteer with Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department. He was able to get his family out safely, along with pets and some Christmas presents.

He said he has helped put out fires before, but it’s different when it’s your own home. The family was asleep at home when the fire broke out in the attic just before 3 a.m.

Shattuck said he was touched by the outpouring of support and glad the team was able to rally around the family.

“Football has a lot of manpower behind it. It’s a great community,” he said. “This is obviously not a great situation, but it’s heartwarming to see the support from the community. It’s what is so great about Seymour.”

A fundraiser for the Carpenter family will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at Celebrations, 357 Tanger Blvd. Suite 101, Seymour. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and admission is $6. Table reservations can be made for $20. There will be live music and a silent auction.

To reserve a table, call 812-569-6321. To donate items for the auction, text 812-569-0287 for dropoff information.

Monetary donations can be made at gofundme.com/officer-carpenter or gofundme.com/help-amy-and-gilbert.

Donations also can be made at the Seymour Police Department, 205 N. Ewing St.

Read the story in Tuesday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.