- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

DENTON, Texas (AP) - Debbie Vaughn brought bottles of apple juice, cans of tuna, jars of peanut butter and more to fill a new, free pantry at Denton’s Central Fire Station.

The Denton Record Chronicle (https://bit.ly/2gN55NC ) reports that since Thanksgiving, she and her husband, Glen Vaughn, have installed pantries inside fire stations in Denton, Krum and Pilot Point to honor their late son, Bryan Collier.

Bryan’s Pantry is open to anyone who needs food for themselves or their family. No applications or paperwork is required, Debbie Vaughn said.

“People can take as much as they need, no questions asked,” she said.

Collier was born with a craniofacial dysplasia, a rare genetic disorder that affected the shape of his head. Part of his brain was missing, too, and he had a stroke at birth, Vaughn said.

Doctors told her that Collier likely wouldn’t survive to adulthood. Even though the doctors didn’t think he would be able to hold up his head, Collier finally learned to walk (at age 10) and was able to feed himself.

At first, Vaughn wondered why her son would be born with such a debilitating condition and why she would be faced with a lifetime of caring for him. She had to wipe his nose and his bottom. As he grew, she brushed his teeth and shaved his beard.

Instead of leaving him in the care of others, she took him with her to work every day at her hair salon in Krum.

Over the years, she learned about herself and others as she saw the effect Collier had on people. He never talked but spoke volumes with his smile, Vaughn said.

“He loved,” she said. “He especially loved children.”

He was nearly 42 years old when he died unexpectedly in August. She wanted to do something that would continue to touch lives the way her son had done for so many years.

Bryan’s Pantry is a large armoire filled to the brim with boxes of pasta and cereal; cornbread, biscuit and pancake mixes; and canned goods of every kind: stews, vegetables, chili, fruits.

Vaughn’s husband is a retired firefighter, so she knew a firehouse lobby would be a good place for such a project. Any food would be inside and out of the heat and cold, but still available day or night to someone in need.

She’s been overwhelmed by the support she’s had so far. Her salon clients bring donations for the pantries every week. A friend called to say her family decided to stock Bryan’s Pantry rather than exchange gifts for Christmas this year.

Vaughn hopes others will help her keep the pantries stocked, but she’s caring for them, too. There may be more pantries in the future. She has a void to fill, she said.

“I truly need for something good to come from all this pain,” Vaughn said.


Information from: Denton Record-Chronicle, https://www.dentonrc.com

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