By Richard Greene

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, May 23, 2015

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When the destructive dark clouds splintered houses and dreams Tuesday night, the goodwill and warm hearts in Boonsville stepped forward to brighten the day for many.

Community leaders and members of the fire department rallied together, collected donations and turned the already planned annual luncheon into a helping hand for displaced residents, first responders and utility workers. More than 500 people were fed Wednesday through their efforts.

“Phenomenal is the only word to describe it,” said Dennis Penney, a Boonsville community trustee.

But the giving and selfless acts in Boonsville started nearly as soon as Mother Nature unleashed her fury in western Wise County Tuesday night.

Firefighters from Boonsville started to head to Runaway Bay when they found the damage along Farm Road 920 and immediately stepped in to help with rescue and recovery efforts there.

According to Boonsville Fire Chief J.D. Goodwin his firefighters worked until 3:30 Wednesday morning to make sure everyone was accounted for. They were back out shortly after 6 a.m. without complaints.

“That’s the name of the business – helping neighbors and friends,” Goodwin said.

Tuesday evening the Boonsville Community Center became a staging area for Parker County units called in to help with recovery.

Wednesday, the annual luncheon that followed another successful Boonstock was planned. Community leaders briefly thought about putting it off because of the storm, but Penney said they chose to go ahead.

“We had 20 or so turn out for the luncheon,” he said. “We usually feed about 50 to 75 people.”

Seeing the need in the community and area, they immediately decided to expand the luncheon to feed anyone and everyone they could.

Briskets that were bought at Boonstock were donated back to the center. Volunteers went out seeking donations. Businesses from Springtown, Bridgeport and Decatur along with individuals stepped forward, donating food, water and money to the cause.

By 5 p.m., Penney said they had 165 people fed. That was just a start. Another 350 people were fed by 10 p.m.

But the effort wasn’t just at the center. Firefighters, who had already put in more than 20 hours, began delivering hot plates of food to Oncor workers, Department of Public Safety troopers and families who had been without power for nearly a full day.

“Once the crowd died down, we packed up meals and took them out,” Goodwin said. “There were a lot of crews that did not have time to eat and DPS troopers had to stand patrol.”

To Penney, the rallying of the community was not surprising. Though he considers himself a newcomer after having lived there since 1982, he said this just follows the legacy established by the giving families that came before them.

“When something happens, the community comes together,” Penney said.

And Boonsville is not alone in rallying to help their neighbors this week. Throughout Wise County, individuals, families and groups have stepped forward to help friends and strangers alike.

It’s easy sometimes to get a very cynical view of the world based on the latest headlines. It’s good to be reminded on the darkest days or nights, the goodwill of fellow man will shine brighter.

Richard Greene is the Messenger’s sports editor.

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