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‘We just want to support families’: Fundraiser held for Santee plane crash victims

Posted at 12:09 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 02:18:56-04

SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) - For the Arvidsons, Tuesday's breakfast at Wendy's had a little more meaning. It wasn't just about grabbing a meal. It was about pitching in to support two families who lost their homes in the plane crash in Santee two weeks ago.

"We just want to support the families. I love this city, and I think it's wonderful," Melinda Arvidson said. "The support people have given because family and community is everything."

One of those families being helped is Maria and Phil Morris.

"I mean, it's overwhelming,” Jimmy Slaff-Gruel, Maria’s son, said.

The Morris's suffered second and third-degree burns and have had a number of surgeries already. The couple is still facing a long road of recovery ahead.

"A lot of these proceeds are going to help with the all of the hidden costs that come with this. Whether it's deductibles, it's for the house or it's medical because we don't know what that's going to look like,” Slaff-Gruel said.

Cody and Courtney Campbell, who also lost their home in the crash, told ABC 10News that they support that was shown to them and the Morris family left them speechless.

"Going through as much as we are right now on a day like today, it makes it a little bit easier. You know it's something to look forward to, just the showing of support is unimaginable,” Courtney Campbell said.

The family that owns the Wendy's on Mission Gorge Road said as soon as they heard about what happened, they wanted to do more than feed those involved with recovery and clean-up efforts. They wanted to help the families who lost everything.

"At the end of the day, we're going to split the total amount even and give it to the families," Brian Spongberg, owner of Wendy's, said. “I had the pleasure of talking to them and getting to know them. I felt like I have friends for life.”

It really was neighbors helping neighbors. Though many of these customers don't know the families affected personally, their stories have touched their lives. And this is one way they say they can show support.

"My mom, she would literally be pulling people out of their cars to hug them,” Slaff-Gruel said. "I go over there to the hospital; I'm reading to her all of the comments and well wishes. And, her smile gets bigger with each one."

Spongberg said that the goal and hope were to raise at least $10,000 dollars. With two hours left in the fundraiser, he said that they raised $17,500.

"I just feel sorry," Doris Harmon said. "I felt really emotional."

"If we can help them out a little bit, we'd be happy to do that," Lyle Arvidson said.

The fundraiser went on until on until 10 p.m.

Whether folks were order just a single Frostee or an extra-large combo, Tuesday night showed how strong a community can be for one another.

"For them to come and, you know, wait in a line that's 45 minutes long or in a drive-thru that goes down the block, for them to do that for strangers is heartwarming,” Slaff-Gruel said.