People really do have big hearts.

Like the Tennessee pipeline worker who ate lunch at Laurel’s Coffee Grinder in Honesdale Tuesday and left behind a $100 bill for the Jeremy Gammon Keene benefit, not to mention his coworker who’d laid down a Ben Franklin for breakfast, even though his bill was less than $4. 

 


People really do have big hearts.

Like the Tennessee pipeline worker who ate lunch at Laurel’s Coffee Grinder in Honesdale Tuesday and left behind a $100 bill for the Jeremy Gammon Keene benefit, not to mention his coworker who’d laid down a Ben Franklin for breakfast, even though his bill was less than $4.

“I didn’t know what to say to him,” said waitress Debbie Russell. “We had people come in that said the only reason they came in was to make a donation.”

Russell, herself, had donated all her day’s tips to the cause.

All told, Laurel’s Coffee Grinder raised more than $2,600 for Army Specialist Jeremy Gammon Keene of Pike County, courageously fighting a rare, aggressive cancer.

A member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, the 2009 Wallenpaupack Area High School graduate is battling Demoplastic cancer.

Though her nephew is gravely ill, Robin Chiusano says he’s been given good news. Her nephew is jumping for joy, she said, that they’ve finally found a surgeon who’s willing to operate.

“There is hope. We keep praying,” she said. “This might be the miracle doctor.”

“He’s not going to give up. He’s a fighter. He loves life. He loves his family,” she said, love underlining her words.

“He’s strong for his mom, too. She’s strong for him,” Chiusano said.
Gammon Keene will undergo surgery in August in Houston, Texas.   
Family friend Judy Hoffman of Tafton, who’d volunteered her time to waitress Tuesday, said Gammon Keene is the most “honest” and “loyal” kid there is, “just an all around good person.” 

Family friends and strangers alike gave of their time Tuesday to waitress, bus tables and anything else to keep up with the constant flow of customers.

Volunteer Sue Singer says she read the story in the newspaper and just wanted to help out. Her nephew, 22-year-old Zachary T. Knapp, of Honesdale, is a Marine currently surviving overseas.

Volunteer Jerda Roe had been there since 5 a.m. and planned to stay all day. “My nephew Catlyn Miller is in Afghanistan (in the Marines). And so is his dad, Daymon (with the Tobyhanna Army Depot.)”

Volunteer Maria McGinnis said, “I have a lot of people in the military. And I think everyone should help one another.”  

Restaurant owner Laurel Gardner says business actually doubled for the day. Where they normally feed about 100 regulars and visitors combined, Gardner says they topped out that day at about 200 people. 

In fact, they ran out of roastbeef, turkey and mashed potatoes. 
Thanking all of her customers, Gardner gave a special shout out to the Tennessee Pipeline workers. From all over the country, they’ve shown themselves to be 100 percent behind a young soldier they’ve never met.
Scooping up vanilla ice cream behind the counter, Russell said the outpouring was “really, really fantastic. People are really giving from the heart.”

Extending a heartfelt thanks to the dozen or so volunteers, Gardner also sent a special thanks her daughter’s way. Thirteen-year-old Vanessa had been at her mother’s side since 3:30 a.m. that morning, busy making breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos and meat wraps.

Asked if she was surprised by the outcome, Gardner said, “I’m surprised at how large of an outpouring it was. I expected everybody to step up to the plate. And they more than stepped up.”

Also donating to the cause:
• VFW Post 531, Honesdale, has committed to making a minimum $550 donation. 
• American Legion District 15 donated $150.
• American Legion Post 311, Hawley, raised $117 at the Post on June 11th. Post member and D.J. Pete Rivera provided the entertainment, said Bar Steward Bill O’Neill.
• The Hideout Help A Hero Fund is donating $750.