As the swish of traffic along Interstate 75 intermingled with the whistle of passing trains and other traffic along U.S. 25 and Ky. 30, the sounds of joy overcame the everyday noise in Truitt Brothers’ parking area.

The festivities were a fundraising event held by the employees of the factory who raised money for the family of Anthony Shawn Fields, a truck driver for Poff Carting Services who was tragically killed on Jan. 19.

Fields was checking his garbage truck at the factory for a malfunction when he was pinned between some moving mechanical parts, causing a fatal injury to his torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The tragedy tore at the hearts of Truitt Brothers’ employees, who asked about helping Fields’ family.

“The employees wanted to assist the family with the tragedy,” said Bruce McDonald, operations manager for Truitt Brothers. “He (Fields) was a young father. They were pretty compassionate about wanting to share with his widow and the children.”

McDonald said the employees began donating money on their own effort.

“We didn’t ask anyone for anything. They wanted to do it themselves,” he said.

Then came the idea for a fundraising lunch that encompassed all three shifts of the factory.

“We got food donated and served lunch to the employees and even had some take-out lunches to family members of the employees,” McDonald said. “The employees got a hot dog, chili, chips, a drink and dessert for $5 per person. We served about 400 meals, most of which were employees. The employees brought a homemade dessert and other companies donated the other food.”

All proceeds, he added, were given directly to Fields’ family, which McDonald described as “very generous.”

“I couldn’t be more honored to work with such a compassionate group of people. This tragedy hit our doorstep, and this man was our neighbor and the employees felt a need to reach out to his family,” McDonald said. “Mr. Truitt is very pleased to see the efforts being made here.”

McDonald said Fields’ death was the most tragic experience for the company since it located in Laurel County in Nov. 2008.

“We’ve had individuals who have lost their homes in a fire but this is the first time for such a tragedy as this,” he added. “This is a compassionate group of people and they did this on their own. The company didn’t ask them for anything — they came in and asked if they could do something for the family.”

As the news of the fundraising efforts got around, McDonald said other companies also contributed to the effort to assist the Fields’ family.

“People outside of our organization, who may have an indirect relationship with our company, also made some monetary donations to help,” he said. “People have been very generous but no matter what we give, it is nothing in comparison to their (Fields’ family) loss.”

McDonald said Breaktime Vending, Gordon Food Service, Mrs. Smith’s, Sara Lee Bakery, Save-a-Lot, the Snack Shop at Flealand Flea Market, Pepsi Cola Company, Flowers Bakery and individual donations contributed to the success of Friday’s lunch.

Truitt Brothers currently has 350 employees, up from the past, due to “growth last year,” McDonald said. The company prepares and packages “some baby food” and “ready-to-eat foods,” such as microwave meals for specific retail sales customers.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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