MOUNT VERNON – Manley Damren’s family members are grateful for the assistance they received after a tragic accident in early September.

What friends and neighbors did after Damren died was much more than running an apple orchard or stacking firewood. For his family, it was a communal embrace.

“It’s astounding how this community has pulled together and donated so generously of their time,” said Damren’s daughter, Joyce Olson. “It’s just been so overwhelming. It doesn’t seem like there’s much of that anymore. It almost seems like we’ve gone back in time. It brought that closeness back.”

Damren, 76, was killed Sept. 4 when he was hit by a car while driving his John Deere lawn tractor on the side of Wings Mills Road near his home.

Friends and neighbors in the close-knit community began organizing help for the family the morning after Damren’s accident. That effort was in full swing a week later when dozens of people organized a fundraiser at the Damrens’ Mount Nebo Apple Orchard. Emily Webber, who helped organize the fundraiser, said even strangers who read or heard about Damren’s accident drove hours just to volunteer.

Webber said about 60 people helped run the orchard during the season, including Ginny Lewis and Ann Parker. Ron and Marie Hodgdon spent many hours cutting and splitting firewood for Damren’s widow, Barbara Damren.

“All to fill one man’s shoes,” Webber said. “There are countless stories of self-sacrifice.”