Community joins Jackie's crusade at restaurant fundraiser

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:56

    Central Valley - There are two young Monroe girls who have captured the hearts of the community for the passed several months. Last week, the community again came together to help their cause . Ten-year-old Pine Tree student Jaclyn Williams has made it her crusade to raise money to help her wheelchair-bound friend, 7-year-old Allison Murphy. The Williams and Murphy families have received an outpouring of love from the community since the girls' story first ran in a December issue of The Photo News. Readers have followed Jaclyn as she continues trying to raise enough money to buy Allison a handicap-accessible vehicle. That would be something that would help her mother, Laurie Murphy, transport Allison more easily. Allison has cerebral palsy and is both epileptic and legally blind. Since the first story ran, readers and community members have donated more than $5,500. Donations have ranged from individuals offering $5 to the Monroe Police Benevolent Association's contribution of $500. But last week in Central Valley, community members came out in full force at a fundraiser for Allison at UNO's Pizza and Chicago Grill. The UNO'S manager, who asked that her name not be used, described the event as one which took her breath away. "It was so personally touching to see such caring coming from the community. It was such a good feeling," the manager said. The restaurant originally called-in about three times the usual amount of wait staff. It was not enough, the manager said. "We were getting take-out orders a half hour before we even opened," she said. "For two hours, there was a 45-minute wait. That's unheard of for a Thursday night. "It was definitely the biggest fundraiser that we ever had here and most likely the biggest one ever, in our entire region." Orders also poured through on the Internet as community members ordered their take-out from their home computers to support the cause. Due to the packed restaurant and wait times, many people were unable to get a seat and could not wait on the long line. But that did not stop those people from helping. "People who didn't get a table were coming up to where me and Jacki were seated with Allison and her mother, handing checks and money to help," said Alba Williams, in a voice which still displayed disbelief of the communities caring. "There were lines of cars outside," she continued. As all of this went on and people from the community came up to Allison and Jaclyn, almost as though they were superstars, the two friends sat together and chatted amongst themselves, like the young girls that they are. All the attention had Jaclyn asking her mother, "Mommy, what's the big deal?" The UNO'S manager said that 90 percent of the sales that day came from patrons who came to support Allison. Twenty percent of the entire day's proceeds will go toward the fund, which will bring the total donations by the community to an even larger number and Jaclyn one step closer to getting the vehicle for Allison. The Williams and Murphy families stayed at the restaurant for about four hours that night, thanking the people that came and meeting all the people that wanted to donate. Jaclyn was handed $206 in donations by people who came up to her. That money has been added to the total in the fund's bank account and has brought the meaning of community caring to new heights. The Williams and Murphy families were thankful to all the people that helped, like the teachers at Pine Tree Elementary and other M-W schools who publicized the event. They also were thankful to those of the Monroe-Woodbury bus garage who gave out photo copies of a voucher for the event and a copy of one of The Photo News stories on Jaclyn and Allison. Although vouchers were unavailable, the restaurant began accepting Photo News articles on the two girls in lieu of them. But Jaclyn still does not understand what all the fuss is about. "One person can make a difference and more people can make a bigger difference," she stated. As Jaclyn, Allison and their families left the restaurant after 9 p.m., they witnessed people still strolling in to give to the cause. Allison's mother looked at Jaclyn and said, "I can't thank you enough. You said you were going to help and you acted on it." Then, after looking around at the room full of community members who came out to help her daughter, she said: "All these people are here because of you."