By Riley Manning
PONTOTOC – Juniors of Tupelo Christian Preparatory School took the school’s mission to the home of Tupelo Police Officer Joseph Maher on Friday morning.
As part of TCPS’ Spirit Opportunity Week, the teenagers cleared the lot of leaf and limb after an extensive tree-removal project a few weeks ago.
“We’ve been truly blessed,” Maher said. “The love and support has been overwhelming at times. It’s great to see the Stauffers taken care of, and us being taken care of, like this.”
Maher was critically wounded by a gunshot in a December shootout that claimed the life of fellow officer Sgt. Kevin “Gale” Stauffer. Maher said after two surgeries and a slew of checkups, he was nearly feeling back on his feet as he joined the students raking leaves.
“It’s amazing,” said Maher’s wife, Lindsey Maher. “Two weeks ago we had about 50 trees in the yard, and they took 30 down. I’m making sure [Joseph] doesn’t overwork himself out here.”
TCPS Athletic Director Aubrey Boren reached out to Build for Beth spokesman Steve Tybor wanting to know what he could do for help. The Build for Beth initiative aims at raising resources to support the Maher and Stauffer families in the wake of the Dec. 23 shooting.
“During the school’s Spirit Opportunity Week, each grade goes out and serves the community in different ways throughout the week,” Boren said. “They were very excited to come out.”
TCPS junior Aaron Lyons said other grades had helped with yard work around the area, or read to residents of nearby nursing homes, but to help the Mahers was a privilege.
“It’s an honor to help someone who puts their life on the line,” Aaron said. “This is just one of the many ways we can say, ‘Thank you.’”
According to Tybor, the trees were cleared free of charge by Brewer Tree Service of Nettleton, while the new gutters installed last week were donated by All American Siding in Tupelo. In the next six weeks, Tybor said US Lawns of New Albany planned to sod the yard.