Community Embraces Family Displaced By Fire

OCEAN CITY — In typical fashion, the generous resort community circled the wagons and rallied in an outpouring of support for a family displaced by a fire at their home early last Monday with a pair of highly successful fundraising events this week.

Around 5:30 a.m. on March 21, a fire was reported at a single-family home in West Ocean City. The residence was occupied at the time by local residents Damon and Kim Deppe, along with their four children, all of whom were able to escape unharmed. However, the family was displaced by the fire and most of their belongings were destroyed. When the word went out for a local family in need, the always-generous resort community, and more than a few strangers, responded as it almost always does.

For example, the Greene Turtle in West Ocean City, which was preparing to host its 8th Annual Oyster Shucking Contest, agreed to donate half of the proceeds of the event last Sunday to the Deppe family. Ordinarily, the proceeds go to the Worcester County Humane Society, and that didn’t change, but it was decided late last week to donate half of the funds raised to the local family.

The result was a win-win for everybody as the Humane Society received around $400 along with 300 pounds of donated pet food, while around $1,000 was raised for the Deppe family. Greene Turtle West Manager Chad Rogers said despite the area’s reputation for giving at a time of need, he was somewhat taken aback by the generosity shown to the family.

“It was really a neat moment,” he said. “We’ve all been to these benefits and we know what area residents are capable of, but everybody really stepped it up this time.”

Rogers said some patrons not involved in the oyster-shucking contest got caught up in the spirit of the event. For example, one unknown man walked in and donated a $300 check to the family, had a beer and a cup of oyster stew before heading for the door. Another family from Pennsylvania just having lunch at the restaurant made a similar donation.

As far as the oyster contest went, just about everybody involved got caught up in the spirit of the event. For the record, Tom Creveling of Harrison’s Harbor Watch repeated as champion in the contest, shucking 62 oysters in the final round to top Harbor Watch manager Jeb Vetock, also a former champion.

In a new twist this year, a side bet raised $200 for any shucker in the final four who shucked over 50 oysters in the final round and each of the four finalists accomplished the feat with Creveling finishing with 62. Creveling donated the $200 back to the family, along with the $100 he earned for winning the contest. Similarly, West Ocean City resident Laura Hinkle won the 50-50 drawing and donated her $275 share back to the family. Rogers said similar donations were made throughout the day.

“It was really neat to see a bunch of strangers and friends rally like they did,” he said. “It’s one of those things you hope never happens to you, but it makes you thankful you live in such a great community.”

Meanwhile, Layton’s on 16th Street hosted a baked chicken dinner with all the appropriate trimmings free of charge to residents and visitors in exchange for a donation to the family. Owner Larry Layton said an estimated 500 people turned out for the event, turning over the restaurant’s 200 seats about two-and-a-half times in three hours. The restaurant’s staff, along with volunteers, donated their time to pull off the event, which raised an undisclosed amount of money for the family.

“It was really pretty amazing,” said Layton yesterday. “The entire community was represented with people from every corner of the county showing up. We had people who didn’t even know about the family or what had happened, people who just showed up for dinner, writing checks and handing over money.”