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'We find healing in giving': Granite Pointe Elementary hosts drive-thru fundraiser for teen, child killed in collision

Alyssa Swan started bawling when she heard about Caylee Brown, 9, and JJ Malone, 19, who were killed in a vehicle-versus-pedestrian collision last week.

Swan wanted to support the family any way possible, she said, as did her 7-year-old daughter Lily Swan. Lily’s $18 donation represented one of the many offerings of money, food and other means of support for family members of the crash victims collected at the drive-thru fundraiser Tuesday hosted by Granite Pointe Elementary, which Caylee attended.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” said 34-year-old Alyssa Swan, the mother of two children. “As a parent, your biggest fear is losing your kids. … That’s everything that your life revolves around. You have hopes and plans for them.”

Gloria Batshoun, the principal of Granite Pointe Elementary, said the event was meant to raise support, as well as rally the community.

“We find healing in giving,” Batshoun added. When tragedy first struck, the school’s teachers immediately asked her how they could help, she said, mentioning meals that were donated, as well.

“Students become your children,” Batshoun said. “The teachers are heartbroken.”

Cars trickled by Tuesday and waved as they dropped off posters, letters, money and stuffed animals, despite the steady downpour. Batshoun said all types of donations were accepted.

Melanie Cruz, 39, choked on her tears when asked why she arrived Tuesday to support the family. Two of her daughters attend Granite Pointe, and her first-born graduated from there, she said. The tragedy hit close to home because her children had some of the same teachers as Caylee.

“It’s a lot to take in,” Cruz said. “It just kinda crushes you.”

She added the Granite Pointe community wants to uplift the family as much as possible.

Cheryl Williams said her son, who had known Caylee since kindergarten, played with her only a few days before the collision. They would run around on the playground and eat lunch together. As a mother, she can’t imagine the pain the victims’ family members are going through.

She said her son, who barely understands why Caylee is gone, must handle the stress of the loss.

“(I want) to show my love and support during this tragic time,” Williams said.

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