By Riley Manning
TUPELO – Just more than a month ago, the city of Tupelo experienced a tragedy it had never seen, when Tupelo Police Sgt. Kevin “Gale” Stauffer was killed in the line of duty.
The ties of brotherhood run strong among police officers, but the outpouring of support from all corners of the community serves as a testament to Tupelo’s greater sense of family.
“Tupelo loves taking care of its own,” said Steve Tybor, spokesman for Build for Beth, to a crowd gathered at the Joyner neighborhood home of Stauffer’s widow, Beth Stauffer. “It’s important to know the community loves them and is committed to walking this path with them.”
Build for Beth is a collection of citizens and organizations donating money, materials and labor to go toward the upkeep, renovation and expansion of the Stauffer home.
“I’ve got kids, and I know as they grow, they need more room,” Tybor said. “Beth and her children, Dixie and Skip, shouldn’t have to worry about a leaky roof, a window that doesn’t open, or a toilet seat that rides like a rollercoaster.”
Tybor said plans were in place to completely renovate the entire house and add a 900-square-foot addition. So far, Build for Beth has received substantial donations from larger companies, like local banks and construction companies, enough to go ahead with plans to break ground the first week in March.
At the end of March, Tybor said extreme home makeover crews from Texas, Virginia, Tennessee and Mississippi will arrive to give the Stauffer home a major facelift.
For Beth, it has been a huge weight off the family’s shoulders.
“The only worry I’ve really had to worry about is missing Gale,” she said. “And my sassy six-year-old.”
She said the support from the community has been as generous as it was unexpected. Police officers, she said, have an often thankless job.
“Those guys put that vest on every day and sometimes we forget they have families of their own,” she said. “I hope this has given people a different perspective on law enforcement. We’re just so thankful and grateful and humble.”
Sgt. Stauffer’s mother, Debbie Brangenberg, agreed that Tupelo’s generosity has been an amazing comfort.
“There’s no way to have a game plan for something like this happening,” she said. “But it’s been as simple as a community taking care of its family.”
Tybor said Build for Beth was in no way exclusive, and it welcomes donations of money, materials and skilled labor.
“Gale would be so excited,” Beth Stauffer said. “This was an evil act done by an evil man, but it is being overcome with good.”
For more information on donations and sponsorships, contact Steve Tybor at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (662) 844-6934. Letters of encouragement and monetary donations may be sent to Build for Beth, P.O. Box 3208, Tupelo, MS 38803. Build for Beth is not a 501c3 non-profit, therefore gifts are not tax deductible.