The power of community is strong in DeSoto County.
Neighbors, friends and members of the Facebook group Hernando Happenings recently pooled their resources for a benevolent goal of helping one young man achieve the dream of car ownership.
Kasheena McDonald, of Horn Lake, could have never foreseen the outcome for her son, Delandion “DJ” Badger, after posting on the Facebook group Hernando Happenings she was in search of a reliable used car.
That search turned into an unexpected blessing for the family.
“Originally DJ wanted to find a job, but he was only 15 years old last summer, June or July,” said McDonald. “He asked me, ‘Mom, can I find a job, because I want to save my money and get a car.’ I said ‘Oh DJ, you’re 15, I don’t know many people that may hire a 15-year-old, but, yes, we can see.’”
DJ contacted Gordin’s Foods and Butcher Shoppe in Horn Lake and asked if they needed help.
“The supervisor told him ‘yes.’ She said he was 15, but the supervisor told him to come in and give it a try,” sad McDonald. “He went in and they asked him to do an application and interview right then and there. I let them know that I would be responsible for getting him to work and making sure he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s a hard worker. She hired him on the spot.”
An eighteen hour a week work schedule, due to his age at the time, had netted DJ over one thousand dollars after initial savings of a couple hundred. DJ now works every single week, gets paid on Friday, and manages checking and savings accounts, thanks to his mom.
“Initially I went to Hernando Happenings to see if someone could help us get an idea of how much more he would need to save,” said McDonald. “Also, to see who would be a dependable and trustworthy person that could help him. I had no idea that it would go the way it went, with people saying, ‘What?! We’ve got to help this kid.’”
Responses from group members exploded and caught the attention of Alec Vaughn. Vaughn, a Hernando Police Officer and owner/operator of Vaughndetta LLC, committed himself to helping DJ. Vaughndetta LLC buys, sells and trades vehicles.
“He commented and said ‘Hey, I would love to help him. Just tell him to keep saving,” McDonald said. “DJ literally did not have to save more than his one thousand dollars.”
“I had a dispatcher, Alana Jade, reach out to me and say her and McKayla Davis, were willing to put some money down on a car if I was planning to find one,” said Vaughn. “Other people said they were willing to help, started sending her donations. Really the community did it. We were just the kind of the middlemen.”
Vaughns lauds the Hernando community as a place everyone comes together to support others.
“Some donations were much greater than others,” Vaughn added. “To me, anyone that donates, that’s them doing their part.”
Donations were made on DJ’s behalf through Vaughn, and DJ’s friend Christian Lee, who works with Vaughndetta LLC, both lowered the price on a vehicle.
It was only two months after McDonald’s initial post that DJ’s new ride arrived
A 2007 Saab 9-3 was parked in DJ’s driveway to his surprise after waking up after a nap.
“It’s weird or interesting I should say, to see how many people helped out with me not asking for anything,” said DJ. “As time moved on I see it as a blessing in the works. I got my first car at 15.”
McDonald also felt that her involvement with the Be a Blessing organization led to such large scale generosity.
DJ’s quiet, shy and laid back personality has already used his blessing to bless others.
McDonald said they recently transported care packages and cleaning supplies in the new ride to a Hernando nursing home for residents.
“Once we saw the love that was coming from that group (Hernando Happenings), we wanted to do something too,” said McDonald.