Community comes together to help Kalume family

News 12 at 11/ Sunday, June 8, 2014

THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a case of tragedy turning into humanity.

A community is coming together after the tragic drowning of a 7-year-old autistic boy.

Jeremiah Kalume wandered off from his home last week just days after the mother launched a campaign to raise money to build a fence around the home.

Now that wish list is becoming reality. As this story has spread, it's inspired one company plus an entire community to pitch in to help keep her other kids safe.

"My heart fell in my stomach, and I just wanted to do something to help her," builder Marcus Peterson said.

Peterson owns HBC Builders, LLC and Augusta Fencing Co. and has already committed to building an "unclimbable" fence that will be finished by the end of the week.

"We're going to go out there this week and erect it for her to keep the kids in there and keep them safe," Peterson said.

Jeremiah was one of four, one girl, three boys, his brothers also autistic and non verbal. Since the accident, DFACS has put the kids in foster care. Building this fence is one step closer to bringing this family back together.

"I don't have to, but I would hope somebody would do that if I was in the same situation. I just feel in my heart to do it, and I'm gonna do it," Peterson said.

"I'm proud to be a part of a community that will do things like that when there's a need, when there's a problem," Barbara Simpkins said.

Simpkins is a Thomson native. She gets a daily reminder of the love in her community with the sign posted on the school across the street.

"It's terrible to lose anybody in the family, but to lose a child so young in life? It's horrible," she said.

Labor isn't the only help this family is getting. The school system has opened a fund to help cover funeral expenses, and Peterson is fronting all the money for the fence.

"We're gonna go do it, and whenever she can pay for it, that'll be the day," he said.

It's a rare moment when kindness overpowers expectation to help a family when they need it the most.

Donations can be made at First Citizens Bank in Thomson under "The Jeremiah Kalume Memorial Fund." Donations can also be dropped of at the McDuffie County School District Office or Thomson Elementary Monday through Thursday through the summer.

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