Lori Highlander and her friends don’t know the girl who will receive their Christmas present of — they hope — over $6,000. That doesn’t matter to them.
“When bad things happen, you want to do something about it,” Highlander said.
She recalled feeling sick in mid-November when she saw the first news stories about an 11-year-old girl who had been beaten and starved by her caretakers until she weighed just 47 pounds.
The girl had been removed from the home by the time the news broke, and her caregivers, Georgetown residents Margaret and Charles Breeze, had been arrested.
However, police acknowledged the experience would likely leave her with lifelong scars.
"It's shocking that a child would endure that kind of pain, for one, and that someone could be that cruel and mean to do that to someone,” Highlander said.
Her friends agreed, so they began a fund in the girl’s honor — one they hope will cover a trip to Disney World once she’s well enough to enjoy it. After surviving months of abuse, Highlander said, having a positive experience to help her reenter the world is the least she deserves.
"We didn't figure that she probably had ever had a trip to Disney and we figured this is something she'd remember forever,” Highlander said.
Their goal is $6,000 for the trip. If the amount raised surpasses the goal, they plan to put it in an account the girl can access when she turns 18.
Anyone wishing to contribute can do so at any First State Bank location. Checks should be written to Hope From the Heart.
"The holidays are about giving, and it's not always necessarily about a toy or about how much I'm going to get my kids for Christmas,” Highlander said. “It's about coming together as a community and trying to do something good for everyone in a way that is really going to impact them for the rest of their lives."