MEDWAY, Maine — Andrea Crawford had never met Racheal Jacobs, but it wasn’t long before walking into Jacobs Lighthouse Ministries and presenting her with $425 that the two women were crying as they held each other in a hug for several minutes Sunday.
“I am pretty overwhelmed,” Crawford said after the tearful scene. “I can’t stop crying. I prayed for her all week.”
A 25-year-old clerk at the Why Not Stop convenience store in Lincoln, Crawford and fellow clerk Dave Hansen spent the last week collecting the money for Jacobs and her son, 3-year-old Sam Jacobs, to help the family defray expenses associated with an accident Sam suffered Jan. 2.
Sam was hurt when he and his sister, Brieanne Powers, were playing on the floor of their Silverwood Court apartment and a green coloring pencil accidentally punctured his right tonsil and lodged near his carotid artery, his mother said. He was in critical condition and rushed from Millinocket Regional Hospital to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor before being taken to Children’s Hospital Boston, from which he was released Wednesday.
The accident occurred as the two played horsey in the living room of the Jacobses’ apartment. Sam had fallen from his sister’s back with the pencil in his mouth, Brieanne said Sunday.
The potluck dinner the family held at the church, which is operated by members of the Jacobs family, allowed the community to celebrate Sam’s recovery. About 75 people attended. It gave Crawford the chance to meet Racheal and Sam. Crawford was glad for the opportunity, spending several minutes cooing over the quiet boy, who is still recovering from his injuries.
“I love kids. I have always loved kids, and it [the fundraising] just felt like something I needed to do,” Crawford said.
Crawford was not alone in this, she said.
“You would be surprised at the number of people at the store who, in my opinion, do not have two nickels to rub together, yet made donations,” Crawford said. “A lot of people donated twice and kept asking for updates.”
Hotel, food, clothing, travel and other expenses for the three-day stay in Boston totaled slightly more than $800, said Jacobs, who had to rush to the hospitals with her son and had nothing in Boston beyond what she could grab for both of them as she ran out the door.
The fundraising by Crawford and Hansen and by Racheal Jacobs’ first cousins, sisters Tammi and Traci Thompson, raised more than $1,200, Jacobs said. The Thompsons placed collection cans at Country Diner, Lennie’s Superette and Maryanne’s Market, all along Route 157 in Medway, and Lounsbury’s Shop & Save in East Millinocket.
The money left after Jacobs pays her Boston debts likely will go toward another trip to Boston that she expects to take within the next month or so. Sam’s doctors want to re-examine him to ensure he is healing properly, she said.
Suffering already from several maladies, including COPD, asthma and allergies, Sam appeared stunned by the attention he received at the party, but soon was playing with children there when he wasn’t cuddling in his mother’s arms. The cake celebrating his return clearly pleased him, and managed to get a smudge of blue frost-ing on the tip of his nose.
“He is a lot better,” Racheal Jacobs said.
“I think he’s back to normal,” Tammi Thompson said.
“This is a welcome home for Sam, not a fundraiser,” said East Millinocket fire Lt. Kevin McAdam, who helped arrange the firetruck escort from the Interstate 95 exit in Medway that Sam received Wednesday. “It’s a great turnout. This is the way small-town people are when someone gets hurt. The escort wasn’t a big deal for me, but it was for Sam, and it was something I could do. So why not?”
Racheal Jacobs said she is deeply grateful for the help she has received. Only now, as her family’s life returns to normal, has she had much opportunity to ponder the accident and how lucky her son is to be alive.
“I’d like to know what the statistics are,” Jacobs said, “how often this kind of accident happens. I never thought it would happen to me and my kids.”