After the disturbing discovery that two young boys with ties to the South Plains had been killed, the community of Sudan, where their mom lives and works, rallied to show their support during this trying time. More than 300 people in the town of around 1000 did their part to help. The Chuck Wagon restaurant, where mother Lauren Smith works, raised $3,200 for funeral arrangements, travel, and other expenses.
"I'd heard about what happened and my heart just sort of broke over it and I felt like I needed to reach out and help in some way," said Rhonda Bimion, one of thirty volunteer cooks and waiters.
Chuck Wagon owner Douglas Ames opened his doors Saturday morning to anyone who wanted a meal in exchange for a donation to help Lauren Smith, whose sons Gatlin and Luke were killed last week.
"I don't know how you get through what she's going through, so the town realizes that, too. And if you look, we have a full dining room, and it's been full all day," Ames said.
"I don't know how much bacon we've cooked and how many pancakes we've made. I lost count a long time ago," volunteer Jonathan Robertson said.
"We've got to go shopping again. We had cases and cases of eggs and we're out of them. We're out of bacon already, but I don't mind because I'm so glad people are turning out" Ames says. United Supermarkets, Allsups, and the FoodJet all donated food to the Chuck Wagon for the cause.
"You see it in everybody's faces; I went out this morning to talk to customers and some of them I couldn't talk to because if I said a word they'd be crying. I mean, you could see it in their eyes," Ames said.
Smith is only one of the restaurant's two waitresses. The people who she's waited on countless times came back Saturday to help her.
"She's been our waitress plenty of times. We're willing to do whatever it takes to help her get through this," said John Vandepol, a regular customer.
"She's clothes shopping for her baby's funeral today... I don't wish that on anybody," Ames said.
In just a few hours, the Chuck Wagon raised $3,200 this morning. Donations to help Smith with funeral expenses can be made at any First United Bank, under her name. The funeral service for the boys will be held Monday evening, the time and location hasn't been set yet, but the service is open to anyone.
The boy's father, Gabriel Armandariz, remains behind bars tonight charged with capital murder. Police say Armandariz called 911 and confessed to the killings after the family alerted them to the situation.
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