Art Foster in 2004 with Vernie Ruth Kimmons, who owned the general store in Pickton for 43 years before selling to Foster. Foster was recently burned in an accident at the store.
File Photo

Benefits set for Pickton store owner burned in trash fire

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 31, 2008 - Two benefits are being planned this weekend to help Art Foster with medical expenses. The Pickton general store owner was burned in September when an aerosol can in a trash fire blew up in his face, burning his arms, chest and abdomen.

Foster was burning trash on the back side of his property when it happened. Tami Minger, who works at the store, said a trash bag containing "dumpster trash" got mixed with a bag of trash to be burned. The bag apparently had an aerosol can which exploded with a "big boom." Minger turned to see Foster stumbling.

"Then I saw flames on his shoulder, and it went kinda down his face," she said. "I yelled, 'Roll, stop and roll!' He did but it re-ignited."

Minger grabbed a water hose and sprayed him and helped get Foster's shirt off, but said his skin still ignited where the chemical was.

"It was strange," she recalled. "The shirt had one damaged spot, but didn't look like it'd burned at all."

She continued to spray water on Foster "trying to keep him wet" until the ambulance arrived. He was taken by ambulance to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, then flown to Dallas and Parkland Hospital's burn unit. He had to have skin-grafts on his chest, arms, right hand and under his shoulders. He was recently released and doing "so much better."

The ladies at the store report that Foster is "doing real good."

"He's out and about more. He's been to the store a few times and has done some errand running," Minger said. "He's still seeing the doctor. He has third degree burns on his chest and abdomen. He's doing good in treatment. The grafting is going well. He still has daily therapy and salt washes."

Members of Tabernacle Baptist Church where Foster attends, along with students at Como-Pickton High School and others, are pitching in to host a car wash and stew benefit Saturday to help pay for hospital bills and ongoing medical treatments.

The fund-raiser begins at 9 a.m. at Como-Pickton High School where student-athletes will be holding a car wash for donations to help Foster, who has no health insurance. The car wash, coordinated by C-P coaches, will continue until 1 p.m.

The students and coaches wanted to help Foster, who regularly donates money to help school programs, especially sports, and is a regular fan at games. He also helped the cheerleaders over the summer when they were looking for a place to hold a fund-raiser, helping them get set up on a site and even providing drinks.

"Art always donates to 'Feed the Eagles,' where parents feed the varsity team. He donates to our sports teams and the school," said Christi Cox, who is assisting her mother, Loretta, in coordinating the benefit. "You could say he becomes a parent yearly."

Cox also noted that Foster also recently married and is now a stepparent, taking an active interest in both kids activities.

"He's just a real good guy," Cox said. "He has some rent houses, and during hard times, when people have trouble making rent, he helps out. He works hard to make Pickton a better place."

Cheerleaders will help serve at the stew benefit being hosted from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday in Tabernacle Baptist Church Family Life Center. Como-Pickton' introductory to cosmetology class will be offering mini manicures, and a group of students will be offering cotton candy.

Several men from Tabernacle Baptist Church will prepare the chicken and beef stew, and the ladies from the hospitality and event committees will make desserts and salads. Ladies from the Methodist Church will also be assisting by preparing desserts. The menu will also include hot dogs.

Some of Tabernacle's children's Sunday school classes will be performing, as will individuals or groups from the church. Various other groups, musicians will also be performing.

The cost of the evening benefit, like the morning car wash, is by "love donation" only. All proceeds will go to the Art Foster medical fund.

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