By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Once the familiar pick-up truck loaded with equipment made its rounds throughout Millington, its owner Edward “Mr. Ben” Ben would finally go to his resting place of 5001 Bilrae Circle North in the Westside Mobile Home Community.
This past Sunday night Ben’s home was engulfed in flames and his trailer burned down.
“I had just gone to Burger King to get a salad,” Mr. Ben recalled. “Someone called me. And when I got back there was already 4 or 5 Millington Fire trucks there. The fire was coming out where my daughter lives. She wasn’t there and my son was there either — no one was hurt.”
The fire broke out between 7:30 and 8 p.m., and all was loss in the home. The tragic news started to spread around Millington Central High School about Mr. Ben and his daughter’s Stephanie’s loss of their home.
MCHS junior Caleb Cropper paid a visit to Senior Counselor Georgette Farmer’s office to find out way to help his classmate and give back to the man with the pick-up truck.
“I heard about what happened to her this morning,” Cropper said Wednesday afternoon. “And I feel like her father nor her deserve that. I’ve seen her father driving around in that truck with lawnmowers and everything. He’s the hardest working man in Millington. I promise you that. He’s always working and giving his time. For that to happen to them, I think we should do something.”
Mr. Ben is known for doing yard work, giving rides for those in need and delivering donuts to area businesses like Burger King, Lowe’s, Millington Post Office, O’Reilly’s and MCHS.
“I do it because it is in my heart,” Mr. Ben said. “I do it so I can put a smile on someone’s face. Life is not always so bad. We need a smile.”
The news of MCHS starting a fundraiser to help him and his daughter bounce back from the fire made Mr. Ben smile. The retired bus driver of 26 years drove children around for 13 years.
Mr. Ben shared his wisdom with his students riding on the bus as a way to help raise them.
“I love my kids,” he said. “They are the most precious resource because they will become our doctors, lawyers and police officers. I want them to go about it doing it the right way. Any info I could give them to help them down the road, I just wanted to help.”
Cropper said Mr. Ben’s past efforts are evident with his impact on the community. And the 11th grader said his giving today should be matched by the community he loves in his time of need.
“That’s a hard-working man and he’s raising a child,” Cropper said. “The way I look at it, if you have a hard-working father, he’s going raise a hard-working child. I don’t see her as just a peer.
“I see her as someone who’s going to be in this country with me when our elders are not there anymore,” he concluded. “We’re going to be there. I think bad things happen to good people too often. It’s sometimes too bad and you can’t overcome it. Sometimes you need a little help.”
For the Ben family to move into a new trailer the cost is about $800 and all items in the original home was destroyed. The goal is $1,500. To donate, call 873-8100 and ask for Mrs. Farmer or visit Instagram at Mchs_trojan18.