Offers of cash, vans, and horse manure have brightened the spirits of a Lawrence woman whose van was destroyed in a storm 10 days ago.
A week ago, Barbara Lumley was struggling to make sense of a weekend storm that wrecked her beloved van.
Today, she's struggling to make sense of the outpouring of generosity that followed when word spread of her plight.
"I'm shocked," she said Tuesday. "Things are going very good."
Lumley, 50, has multiple sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disorder. She can't walk, her speech is impaired, and the 1978 GM van parked May 26 in her Lawrence driveway was, since 1987, her main link to the outside world -- until a 75-foot section of maple tree fell on it early that morning.
The van had a lift for her wheelchair, and assistants used it to drive her to grocery stores, doctor's appointments and support-group meetings for people with multiple sclerosis.
Lumley's homeowner's and auto insurance policies didn't cover the damage. But Allstate insurance agent Denise Taylor was so moved by Lumley's trouble that she decided to do something about it. She opened a fund-raising account for Lumley at Emprise Bank, 2435 Iowa.
Since then, donors have sent more than $4,000 to the account, including a $1,000 contribution from an anonymous donor.
Meanwhile, at least two companies have offered to give Lumley old vans. She turned down a 1979 van offered last week by Bluegrass Motors, a used car dealer in Big Springs, because she hoped for a newer van. On Tuesday, she learned that Williams Natural Gas Co., of Tulsa, Okla., had offered to give her a 1992 Chevy.
Some of the gas pipeline company's workers in Tonganoxie and Ottawa heard about Lumley and convinced executives in Tulsa to offer the van.
Lumley hoped to learn Thursday whether a Lawrence nonprofit organization would accept the donation on her behalf, a necessity for the deal to go through.
"That would be great," Lumley said. "With the money I've gotten so far, I can make the van useful for me."
Gas station owner Stan Zaremba wants to help Lumley by selling 20 tons of garden mulch made from horse manure and wood chips.
He plans to sell 40-pound bags of the mixture for $3.29 each at his three Zarco Phillips 66 gas stations, at Ninth and Iowa, 1500 E. 23rd, and six miles south of Lawrence on U.S. Highway 59, not far from his home and farm, where the horses live.
He'd like to sell 1,000 bags, raising $3,290 for Lumley.
"I'm not a big one for all these social programs, but this gal, through no fault of her own, has come up with MS," Zaremba said. "I just thought this would be a way to help her out and let her know that a stranger is concerned about her."
- Contributions may be sent to Barbara Lumley, c/o Emprise Bank, 2435 Iowa, Lawrence 66047. For more information about helping Lumley, call Denise Taylor at 832-0615.