Photo by Theo Tate
Ace Storage employee Amy Loveland (second from left) was presented a check of $1,080 she raised from her heroin prevention fundraiser on May 21. Joining Loveland were Granite City Police Chief Rich Miller, Meghan Daily and Granite City police officer Eric Stacy.
GRANITE CITY — Heroin deaths continue to climb in Madison County.
There were 44 heroin-related deaths in the county in 2015, which almost doubled the 2014 mark of 26.
One of those people who died last year was Granite City resident Andrew Loveland. He died Aug. 18, one week before his 27th birthday.
“He got a hold of it, came home from work, had done some before he left, thinking it would help him sleep,” said Amy Loveland, Andrew’s mother. “When he died, that was the end of it. Through all of that, I didn’t realize how prevalent it was here in Madison County ... and how young this goes.”
So on May 21, she decided to have a fundraiser called Say No To Heroin at her workplace, Ace Storage at 910 St. Thomas Road, to promote awareness.
“He hasn’t been dead a whole year yet, but we decided as a family and my work family that if we didn’t do something, I was going to go crazy,” she said.
The event raised $1,080 for the Substance Abuse Bullying Resistance Education (SABRE) program. Loveland was presented with the check May 31 at the Granite City Police Department’s headquarters.
“It was very successful, and I’m proud of everybody who helped me and all of my folks and my family and my friends that came out and helped out,” Loveland said. “The work folks did an awesome job. Everybody supported us in every way possible to make sure that we had plenty of everything that we needed for the event. Next year, we’re going to start sooner and get more going so it would be even bigger next time.”
Granite City police officer Eric Stacy has been in charge of the SABRE program for five years.
“It encompasses and teaches kids in fifth grade about the dangers of different drugs, heroin being one of them,” Stacy said. “We try to help kids not only show them the dangers of drugs, but also how to tell kids no and how to resist peer pressure.”
Stacy credits the city’s fire department and ambulance service for preventing more deaths. In an average week, they respond to more than one overdose call, he said.
“If we didn’t have the ambulance service and the fire department that we have, we would have a ton more overdoses,” he said.
Loveland has been working at Ace Storage for five years. She’s the manager of the Granite City location. Ace Storage also has locations in Pontoon Beach, Collinsville and Cahokia.
The fundraiser was a seven-hour rummage and vendor sale that cost $25 per table and included a 50/50 raffle.
“Since my storage sits off Route 3, we had the whole street basically because we’re a dead end street,” Loveland said. “We had a capacity up to 50 vendors, but we had approximately 12.
“I’m really hoping that as we go forward each year, we’ll be able to get more things for the kids and more vendors and more stuff so we can make this grow and grow,” she said.
Loveland said she got plenty of support from her colleagues after her son’s death.
“My boss is an amazing person,” she said. “When my son died, I had as much time as needed to deal with that. They all chipped in, sent me a lovely card and bought me a tree that we planted in our yard. I put ashes with the tree for my son as a remembrance, but after that, I realized that with this being a heroin death, there had to be more to do. I could not imagine another mother going through what I did.”
Loveland said she is surprised by the number of people taking heroin.
“It’s pretty sad,” Loveland said. “We’re talking young, like 13 to 14 (years old) all the way to your 50s and 60s that people are still doing this. So if we catch these kids when they’re young, in two generations, we can wipe it out.”