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Berlin rallies around family after fatal hunting incident

Community raising money for family after 11-year-old's death
Posted at 3:40 AM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 04:40:45-05

BERLIN — Wearing blaze orange in a Berlin shop on this day has extra meaning.

After a fatal hunting incident in Green Lake County on Sunday involving an 11-year-old boy, the Berlin Middle School and community as a whole are showing support for the family.

Inside Bays' Beards and Cuts, orange was the theme of the day as businesses and organizations in town came together to show support for the Thom family.

Zach Bays is the owner of Bays' Beards and Cuts. He decided anyone who wears orange to the shop through Tuesday would have the money from that haircut go to the Thom family.

"It's kind of an easy decision. I mean I don't know the family at all, but he was in the same class as my oldest daughter so I mean it's one of those things that when you hear something like that," said Bays.

He said that being a hunter with children of a similar age, it's hard for him to imagine what the family is going through.

"Even though I haven't been able to get out the last few years, eventually I want to be able to take my kids and I couldn't imagine something like this happening," said Bays.

Bays said that the town coming together without any planning shows the closeness of the community.

"This was something last night i heard about it and i was like ok i want to do something and it's not just me that's doing it, they've got the meal drive going on that's filled for every day," said Bays.

Bays said that his goal is to raise $500 for the family and he's already around halfway there. He said that he was booked solid on Monday and expects Tuesday to be similar.

Other businesses and non-profits in the area are also announcing new ways of donating to help the family. Farmers and Merchants Bank is collecting donations in addition to a bake sale at the Knot Spot.

Unimaginable Hope, a local non-profit in Berlin, announced on Monday that any donations received through the end of November will go to the Thom family.

Krista Sobieski is the founder of Unimaginable Hope. She says that in times like this the town tends to pick each other up.

"It's a sad time in Berlin, but the beauty of small communities is that they come together in big ways to support each other," said Sobieski.

She said that extended members of the Thom family helped her out when she lost both of her parents in 2017. Now, she said it's her chance to give them as much support as she can alongside the community.

"I have not forgotten how much the community supported me and my family in my time of loss and now, I hope that together we can give back to help them feel the love and support they need," said Sobieski.

The organization encourages anyone looking to donate to online through the Unimaginable Hope Facebook page.