As the community mourns the loss of a local seven-year-old, benefits have been planned for the affected families.

As the community mourns the loss of a local seven-year-old, benefits have been planned for the affected families.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, Landree F. Heese, 7, was killed, while the driver, Daniel D. Castor, 33, and passengers Kip Castor, 7; Andrew M. Heese, 39; and Avery J. Heese, 10, were injured in a crash involving freezing rain in Vernon County, three miles south of Nevada. Andrew Heese and Daniel Castor are currently at Freeman Hospital West in Joplin.

In this difficult time, the community has rallied. Friends, family and even strangers have collaborated their efforts. To date, a dinner and auction has been set for April 7 at Lucky J Steakhouse and Arena east of Carthage. The bands Live Wire and Center Creek Sinners have agreed to play at the event, and more are expected. Donations for this event are currently being accepted at Specialty Risk Management, 2023 S. Garrison Ave. (To inquire about this call 417-388-1249.)
A friend of the families, Tricia Charleston, is one of the organizers for the benefit.

“I had three pages of volunteers in two days,” she said of the reaction from the community. “In just two hours, a person I didn't even know had two Facebook pages set up, and they are updated constantly. It's just been a crazy week. I've never had so many people calling me to help. I have people I don't even know calling me by my first name.”

On the Facebook pages, “Castor Family Benefit,” and “Heese Family Benefit” locals show support, concern, and stay updated on the survivors' recoveries.
“I tell everyone we are so blessed to live in such a close community,” Charleston said. “It's certainly been a blessing to me.”

At MadStyle Salon, in Carthage, Shanna Potter has started offering purple hair extensions in memory of Landree, which will also benefit the families. The salon benefit began Friday and will continue through March.

Besides the auction / dinner event on April 7 – volunteers have expressed interest in also holding a fish fry, softball tournament, hunting trip and a travel agent has promised proceeds of her services will go to the families.

“It's heart-breaking to see these kids impacted by losing Landree,” Charleston said. “It's touching because we all have babies and I think that's why I'm willing to do anything for them. If I can give them a glimpse of happiness for a second, it's all worth it.”

The leaders for the benefits of the families are: Tricia and Kevin Charleston, John and Jeanna Bartosh, Matt and Jessie Freeman, Karen and Norman Rouse, Shanna and Brian Potter and Miranda Wolf.

Separate bank accounts have been set up at Southwest Missouri Bank for Andy Heese and Danny Castor. Donations may be made at any SMB location.

Fundraiser for Washburns
Carl Junction residents are rallying to help another family involved in a terrible crash almost a month ago.
On Jan. 12, John Washburn, Asbury, was driving his family, wife Deborah Washburn, 49 and daughters Abby Washburn, 19; Samantha Washburn, 13 and Karli Washburn, 12, to St. Louis to take Abby Washburn back to college.
At 12:25 p.m., the family was driving east on Interstate 44 near Sarcoxie when a vehicle, driven by Bonnie Weaver, 75, Tulsa, traveling the wrong way in the eastbound lanes, hit the Washburns’ SUV head on.
John Washburn, who owned the Gringo’s restaurants in Carthage, Webb City, Joplin and Neosho, was killed instantly, and the rest of the family suffered serious injuries and were taken to hospitals in Springfield and Kansas City, Kan.
Deborah Washburn and the girls are recovering but will have to endure months of rehabilitation, according to family members posting on a Facebook page titled Pray for the Washburns.
Deborah Washburn and Abby Washburn were released from the hospital to start rehabilitation at a hospital in Nebraska, while the two younger children are still hospitalized.
The Carl Junction Asbury communities are getting together to hold Jazz ‘n’ Java at the Junction, an event featuring more than 10 different jazz bands, at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at Carl Junction High School.
Organizers say it will be a night of “cool jazz, hot java and smokin' great eats from the area's best restaurants! All proceeds benefit the Washburn family's medical expenses.”
“Bring your appetite, the area's best restaurants are generously providing great food,” states the event’s Facebook page. “Gift baskets, gift cards and items, donated from the region's best shops and restaurants are available during the silent auction.”
For more details, email Kim Stross at